Staff Predictions: Football vs UMass

It’s perhaps the biggest game at Ryan Field in decades.

It’s the hottest ticket in Chicago this weekend:

Northwestern and UMass are set to kick off Saturday at Ryan Field in a battle of 1-win teams. Vegas lines have indicated that the ‘Cats are close to 40-point favorites in this one. You certainly aren’t going to want to miss this one!

Here are our staff’s picks:

Parker Johnson (@ParkerKJohnson): Northwestern 52, UMass 6

If the 40-point spread doesn’t entice you, I have a solution: Northwestern football points scored versus UMass OR Northwestern women’s basketball points scored versus Duke on Sunday (-8.5)? Consider it a WNUR Sports special. In all seriousness, this will be a game in which Northwestern can blow off its pent-up frustration from a disappointing season and finally put some points on the board. It won’t really mean much, especially if this ends as one half of a 2-win season, but trust me, it will feel very good.

Player to watch: Drake Anderson, RB, Northwestern

With Kyric McGowan ruled out and JJ Jefferson doubtful for Saturday, NU will be missing its few explosive options on offense. Isaiah Bowser is also out, so insert Drake Anderson. The one thing we know for sure is that there will be room to run against the worst run defense in the country, which is giving up nearly 300 yards per game. You heard it here first: Anderson becomes the first Wildcat running back to reach 200 yards since Justin Jackson in the 2016 Pinstripe Bowl.

Kevin Sweeney (@CBB_Central): Northwestern 41, UMass 10

Before the season on an episode of “Moving the Chains”, I picked UMass against the spread against Rutgers because “Rutgers shouldn’t be favored by three touchdowns against anyone”.

Well, I underestimated just how bad UMass is. The Minutemen jumped out to a 21-7 lead in the first quarter before Rutgers began to have its way, accumulating over 550 total yards in a 27-point victory.

This UMass team isn’t just bad, it’s one of the worst teams in the history of college football. I’m waiting for the 30 for 30 on this game.

Player to Watch: Jason Whittaker, QB, Northwestern

#FreeWhittaker #FreeWhittaker #FreeWhittaker

Karan Gowda (@DalaiGowda): Northwestern 10, UMass 9

In this day and age, who knows?

Margaret Fleming (@mgfleming12): Northwestern 28, UMass 10

The Wildcats surprised us all against Purdue, and the momentum from a good loss should help them roll over UMass. On the other side, Army just demolished the Minutemen 63-7. With both teams looking for their second win of the season, this isn’t going to be the prettiest football game you’ve ever seen, but hopefully the ‘Cats will be hungry enough to get the dub and avoid complete embarrassment.

Player to Watch: Aidan Smith, QB, Northwestern

Getting to see the Wildcats score touchdowns against Purdue felt like a dream, especially because they weren’t thrown by big name Hunter Johnson. I think Aidan Smith has another great game up his sleeve, and who knows, maybe we should keep an eye out for the Heisman watch??? Just throwing it out there.

Eric Rynston-Lobel (@EricR_L): Northwestern 31, UMass 6

Aidan Smith played as well as I think he’s capable of last week. He’ll probably look decent again against a really bad defense. Or, perhaps Fitz will take a page out of Army’s playbook and only attempt five passes while giving 14 different players an opportunity to run the ball…even with a very depleted RB room. 

Player to watch: Riley Lees, WR, Northwestern 

Lees finally got consistent targets last week, and I expect that to continue into this game. He and Smith have developed solid chemistry so expect Lees to have another big day. 

Drew Myers: Northwestern 40, UMass 0

You read that right, Northwestern is a 40 point favorite in this game so of course they’re going to win this game 40-0. So what that Northwestern has only scored a combined 53 points in their last 6 games! The Minutemen have been giving up 40 points in every game this season, except in their game against Akron, which they won. Also, while I’m talking about Akron, it’s incredibly ironic considering that Northwestern lost to Akron last year! This is going to be quite the matchup with the one of the worst defenses in the FBS playing one of the worst offenses in the FBS. Which side is going to win out? hopefully Northwestern. However, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from this season of Northwestern sports, never assume that Northwestern can cover large spreads against teams that they are widely favored against.

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