NCAA Football – Week 1
Northwestern missed out on a winning season last year with a 33-22 loss to Texas A&M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl that dropped it to 6-7 overall. The Wildcats have been opened as 40/1 longshots to win the Big Ten this season after going 3-5 in conference play in 2011.Their odds to win the Legends Division in the Big Ten are 15/1.
The strength of this team still lies in a potent offense that averaged close to 30 points a game in 2011 despite having some protection issues with its offensive line. Kain Colter steps in for the departed Dan Persa at quarterback which should add a whole new dimension to the offensive attack. Last season, Colter threw for 660 yards in a backup role, but led the team in rushing with 589 yards on the ground. The main concern for the Wildcats is a defense that lost a number of key starters from last year’s squad. They will need to quickly plug some holes to try and improve upon the 27.7 points a game it gave up in 2011.
Syracuse begins its final season in the Big East as a 25/1 longshot to win a conference title before moving to the ACC in 2013. The Orange have not been a factor in the title race the past few seasons and are coming off a 5-7 record overall and a very disappointing 1-6 record in Big East play in 2011. They have now won a grand total of eight conference games in the last five seasons combined.
If Syracuse is going to have any chance at turning things around this year, it will need a much better effort on both sides of the ball. The Orange finished 2011 ranked 84th in the nation in scoring with an average of 24.2 points a game to go along with a defense that was ranked 73rd in points allowed.
Northwestern at Syracuse Pick:
While it is always hard to win on the road on opening day, Northwestern has a clear edge over Syracuse on both offense and defense. Neither team will be a factor in its conference this season, but look for the Wildcats to come away with a victory on the road that easily covers the two-point spread. Northwestern 27 Syracuse 13