The Northwestern Wildcats (1-2) from the Big Ten will host the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks 1-2 from the MAC on Saturday. Miami leads the all-time series 6-3, but these schools have not met since 2009 when Northwestern won 16-6. The Wildcats are a 6.5-point favorite with the total set at 49.5.
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New leader at QB, learning the ropesMiami is coming off a 38-17 loss to their arch non-conference rival Cincinnati as a 22.5-point dog last week. The Redhawks were outgained 478 to 183 in total yards and 25 to 13 in first downs but won the turnover battle 3 to 1 keeping the game close for a while. The game was tied 17-17 until the Bearcats broke the tie on a 20-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds before the half. In the second half, it was all Bearcats.
@MiamiOHFootball Aveon Smith is one of the ascending young QBs in CFB..Brett Gabbert was the top QB in the MAC conference, and he may not get his job back now. Really impressive kid.. pic.twitter.com/5EwW6L7Iky— Shaun (@FCSScout) September 17, 2022
Miami is now 1-2. They lost the opening game this season 37-13 as a 16-point dog to Kentucky and beat Robert Morris 31-14 as a 30.5-point favorite. Miami suffered a heartbreaking blow in their season-opening loss to Kentucky, as Brett Gabbert, one of the top quarterbacks in the MAC went down with a season-ending injury. Freshmen Aveon Smith is now the top signal caller. He has thrown for 284 yards on 53.2% completions, with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Redhawks offense is averaging 20.3 ppg, and ranks just 114th with 162.3 passing yards and 92nd with 132.7 rushing yards per game. The defense is allowing 29.7 ppg, 12th allowing just 75.7 rushing yards but 110th allowing 274.3 yards in the air.
The did not handle early success well, let's see how they handle embarrassmentThe Northwestern Wildcats were one of the top stories in the College Football world when they went to Ireland and beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers as an 11.5-point underdog in Week 0. Since then, the Wildcats have been a massive disappointment falling to Duke 31-23 as a 10-point favorite and 31-24 to Southern Illinois as a 13.5-point favorite in home games the last two weeks. The Wildcats now find themselves at home against a Miami team that has not shied away from the tough competition early.
There are bad losses, and then there are baaaad losses.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) September 17, 2022
Northwestern now down 31-17 late to 0-2 Southern Illinois.
Northwestern is averaging 26 ppg, ranks 15th with 320.7 passing yards per game, and 87th rushing for 152.3 rushing yards per game. Quarterback Ryan Hillinksi is the only Wildcat player to attempt a pass this season, and he has completed 63.8% of his passes with five touchdowns and three interceptions. Evan Hull leads the team with 308 rushing yards on 4.8 yards per carry with three touchdowns.
The Wildcats' defense is allowing 30 ppg, ranking 119th allowing 285.3 passing yards, and 73rd with 142.3 rushing yards per game.
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Full-Game Side Bet
This is a tough matchup for Miami. The strength of Northwestern's offense is its passing attack, and that is where Miami is most vulnerable defensively. If Brett Gabbert were healthy, I'd say the Northwestern defense is in trouble, but Aveon Smith only has one start against an FBS team under his belt, and from what he's shown against Robert Morris and Cincinnati, I don't think he's ready to lead Miami on enough consistent scoring drives to keep matching the Northwestern offense on the other end.
The Wildcats will also not be caught off guard for this game, as they should be completely embarrassed after last week's performance against Southern Illinois. The Redhawks on the other side are coming off a tough physical rivalry loss to Cincinnati and may feel as though they have an advantage based on Northwestern's recent struggles. I expect head coach Pat Fitzgerald to get his team back on track and I will back the Wildcats by at least a touchdown.
Full-Game Total Pick
Northwestern has allowed at least 28 points in every game this season, including allowing 31 points against Southern Illinois in last week in a loss. To put it into better perspective, that Southern Illinois team had lost to Incarnate Word 64-29 and SE Missouri State 34-31 before beating Northwestern.
Miami's offense isn't at full strength, but I expect them to be better than in previous weeks, as they have already faced two tougher defenses in Kentucky and Cincinnati. So expect a better offensive game from Miami, but their defense will have its hands full against a balanced Northwestern offense.
Both teams are in the bottom 25 of the nation in passing yards allowed through three games, and I don't see the total staying below 50 points. I will take the over with Northwestern winning 31-21.