What Are Northwestern’s Big Ten Odds? Season Win Total Preview & Pick

Last season was arguably Pat Fitzgerald’s worst as the head coach at his alma mater. They matched their worst record under their former star linebacker, the passing game was among the most impotent in college football, their defense was among the worst tackling units (111th in yards after contact allowed), and they finished 102nd in turnover margin. The latter two are especially surprising. The only other time Fitzgerald’s team went 3-9 (2019), they responded by winning the B1G West. Don’t expect a repeat, but never be surprised at Coach Fitz’s ability to surprise.

Northwestern Wildcats 2022 Big Ten Preview

2021 Record: 3-9 (1-8); Big Ten Finish: T-6th B1G West

AP Poll: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | PFF: No. 83 | SP+: No. 89

Head Coach: Pat Fitzgerald: 109-90 (64-68) | 15th season

Offensive Coordinator:  Mike Bajakian (3rd season)

Defensive Coordinator: Jim O’Neil (2nd season)

Futures Odds @ FanDuel

National Championship Odds: +100000

B1G Championship Odds: +50000

Win 10 Games: No Line

Regular Season Wins: OVER 3.5 -150 | UNDER 3.5 +125

2022 Sneak Peak

Origin of Optimism: Pat Fitzgerald. He has made a bowl in 10 of the past 13 seasons.

Cause for Concern: There’s still no clear answer at the quarterback position.

Breakout Player: WR Bryce Kirtz, Junior

It’s a disappointing 2022 if they cannot show an improvement from 2021. 

It’s a successful 2022 if the Wildcats feel good about their coordinators going into 2023.

X-Factor: Six transfers on the front seven with at least two projected to start.

Schedule

With Duke (O/U 3.5 wins), FCS Southern Illinois, and Miami (OH) out of the MAC, all at home, the ‘Cats have a chance at sweeping the out-of-conference slate. Unfortunately, with their season opener vs. Nebraska in Dublin, they have only three B1G home games, five on the road, and one of the teams visiting Ryan Field is No. 2 Ohio State. It doesn’t seem fair.

OVER/UNDER 3.5 Wins

Look, I’m not trying to sell on this being a good roster. It’s not. But it might not be as bad as you think. Northwestern has an NFL-left tackle (among four returning O-line starters), two runners capable of going for 1,000 yards, an excellent pass rusher, and multiple corners who can cover. If they get anything close to middle-of-the-road quarterback play, a bowl season wouldn’t be out of the question.

While we’re not counting on a bowl season (we don’t need to), three of the last four times Fitzgerald’s teams had a losing season, they bounced back to make a bowl the following year (and finished ranked). Their only other losing campaign in this era was followed by a 6-6 season. Coach Fitz has earned the benefit of the doubt.

Six might be asking too much from this group, but some improvement—with a more experienced and talented team—isn’t, which is why four or five wins are likely from the Wildcats in 2022.

The Pick 

OVER 3.5 (-140) @ BetMGM/Caesars