Northwestern Football 2020: What Sports Books, Projection Models Say

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Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald met the media this morning, via Zoom and summarized the rapidly approaching college football season perfectly:

“I kinda feel like we’re 1-0 right now, being back to practice. I felt like that might not happen.” He lated added: “We’re fired up about having the opportunity to play, I’m just fortunate to have the opportunity to coach a team.”

With all that has transpired in the world, with the Big Ten cancelling and then later reinstituting their season, just getting to play this fall is a victory within itself.

But how do the experts think the Northwestern Wildcats will do this season? Let’s take a closer look.

We looked at askbettors.com and their network of trusted betting sites, many of which work off of in-depth statistical modeling. We also perused plenty of online betting sites reviews to see who might just have the most trustworthy odds for Northwestern and the Big Ten.

The ESPN Football Power Index gives NU an 89.3% chance of winning their season opener, Oct 24 at home against Maryland. Okay that’s great for the Wildcats, but what about the big picture? The Cats will play all six of their Big Ten West division rivals, plus two crossover games against the East division in an eight game slate that will set up the annual Big Ten title game.

Vegas Insider gives the Cats conference championship odds of +30,000. The only team with longer odds is Illinois, at +40,000. So the bookies aren’t too high on NU; certainly not when you look at the over/unders on win totals either. Sports Betting.ag has NU at 4, ahead of five league teams, including Illinois at 3.5, but this would still be an improvement over last season.

“I’d like to win more games than last year,” said Fitzgerald as he blatantly evaded a question about the staring quarterback position battle. After going 3-9 in 2019, just 1-8 in the league, getting four wins or more would be exactly that- an improvement.

Getting there, it all starts with the quarterback, and that position has to improve by leaps and bounds over last season. Indiana transfer Peyton Ramsey is widely expected to win the starting job, and that’s obvious, but Fitz will say it’s an open battle all preseason long, and keep the answer mum for as long as he possibly can.

Simply put that is just how he rolls, but the anticipation of the Big Ten season is building.

“As we start getting closer and closer to gameday, the guys’ level of excitement is going up and up,” Fitzgerald added before stating what this season is really all about, staying safe: “Ultimately it comes down to our social decisions, and that’s up to us as our coaching staff.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated, Chicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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