Northwestern vs. Michigan College Football Week 8 Picks and Predictions

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Mike Morris #90 of the Michigan Wolverines. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP

The Northwestern Wildcats and Michigan Wolverines make the Under the right choice for Saturday’s college football picks.

Northwestern Wildcats vs. Michigan Wolverines

Saturday, October 23, 2021 – 12:00 PM EDT at Michigan Stadium

Maybe things will work out for Jim Harbaugh after all. He was a money-printing machine as a head coach at Stanford, and again when he took control of the San Francisco 49ers. But it’s been tough sledding for the former quarterback ever since he reunited with his alma mater. Here’s how the Michigan Wolverines have fared against the college football odds with Harbaugh at the helm:

  • 2015: 9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS
  • 2016: 10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS
  • 2017: 8-4 SU, 5-6-1 ATS 2018: 10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS
  • 2019: 9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS
  • 2020: 2-4 SU, 1-5 ATS

Sad! But things are very different in 2021, the Year of the Tan Pants. Harbaugh has assembled the best team Michigan fans have seen since he played for Bo Schembechler in the mid-’80s. The Wolverines are 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS to start the new season; they’ll almost certainly win again this Saturday when they host the Northwestern Wildcats (3-3 SU, 2-4 ATS).

But we can’t quite bring ourselves to recommend them for your Week 8 NCAAF picks, not as 22-point home faves at YouWager (visit our YouWager Review).

We Must Protect This House

Three touchdowns is a lot of points to be giving up, even against a team as beatable as Northwestern. These ‘Cats rank No. 85 overall (No. 102 offense, No. 42 defense) on the F+ charts at Football Outsiders, but at least they have some stopping power, holding three of their six opponents thus far to single digits on the scoreboard.

Head coach Pat Fitzgerald was the first two-time winner of both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Chuck Bednarik Award as the best defender in college. He knows a thing or two about this. Those F+ numbers also hint at our choice for Saturday’s college football picks.

Head coach Pat Fitzgerald of the Northwestern Wildcats. Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images/AFP

There’s a 51-point total on the NCAAF odds board at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review) as we go to press, and given the cavernous gap between Northwestern’s offense and defense, we think the Under has some legs in this matchup. Jeff Sagarin’s projections at The USA Today have these Big Ten teams combining for just 42.12 points. Saturday’s forecast also calls for somewhat chilly conditions at the Big House, with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees at game time.

Every little bit helps. Sagarin also projects Michigan to win by 21.03 points, which further informs our decision to eschew the spread and stick with the Under. It’s not easy to beat a large spread in what figures to be a low-scoring affair, and although the Wolverines have split the total at 3-3 this year, the Under is 3-1 when they play in Ann Arbor. Even better, the Under is 14-5-1 in this matchup dating back to 1996. We’ll buy that for a dollar.

NCAAF Pick: Under 51 (–108) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Under 51 (–108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.