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Holiday Bowl Betting Picks

Northwestern vs. Utah Picks

A pair of teams that’ve recently excelled in the bowl season will square off against one another in the Holiday Bowl on New Year’s Eve when Pat Fitzgerald’s No. 22 ranked Northwestern Wildcats square off against Kyle Whittingham’s No. 17 ranked Utah Utes. Points could come at a premium in this one at online sportsbooks with the Wildcats possessing the nation’s No. 40 ranked scoring defense and the Utes checking in at No. 17. This will be the first matchup in the bowl season between these respective programs.

Northwestern Wildcats vs. Utah Utes

Date and Time: Monday, December 31, 2018, 7 p.m. ET

Location: SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA

Opening CFB Odds: Utah -8, 47

Northwestern vs. Utah TV Coverage: FS1

The Wildcats will be looking to extend their bowl winning streak to three straight after holding off Kentucky a short season ago to pull out the 24-23 triumph. Like it did in that matchup, Northwestern proved to be wretched in the favored role this season in going 3-2 SU and 0-4-1 ATS the six times linemakers expected them to win the game. But when dogged, Coach Fitz’s kids were exceptional in going 5-3 SU and a bankroll boosting 6-1-1 ATS with outright wins tallied against Purdue, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. UNW was on a three game win streak before getting destroyed by Ohio State in the B1G title game.

The Utes went on to win the Pac-12 South this season even though they were without their starting quarterback and running back for a bulk of it. Utah’s offense struggled mightily with both of them out of commission, but they still went on to win nine games and go a respectable 7-6 against the closing CFB odds. Before dropping a tough 10-3 decision to Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game, Utah has logged SU wins against Oregon, Colorado, and BYU while covering two of them against the spread. Utah stands 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS the last three times it was favored to win its bowl game, but only won those games by an average of 4.0 points per game with the over cashing in twice.

Key Stat

4.7 – This is the amount of yards the Utes defense served up per play. That output ranks No. 21 nationally and it’s something that’s going to have the Wildcats scrambling to try and figure out. Northwestern ranks No. 106 in the country in total offense with an average of 356.8 yards racked up per game, and it only averaged 4.6 yards per play ( No. 120 ). With the purple and black ranked No. 69 in time of possession, it’s going to have an extremely rough go of it consistently holding onto the football, but more importantly, pushing the pigskin up and down the gridiron. Numerous three and outs are bound to take their toll on the Wildcats’ excelled defense, and when that happens, the flood gates are likely to open.

Player To Watch

Tyler Huntley – No ifs, ands or buts about it, the Utes missed their junior quarterback immensely after he broke his collar bone against Arizona State in early November. While the scores in their four games played doesn’t necessarily reflect it with the team putting an average of 25.0 points per game on the board, the 10-3 loss to Washington in the title game is a stark reminder of just how important he is to the unit’s overall success. He’s already returned to practice and expects to play in the Holiday Bowl provided the training staff gives him the thumbs up for contact. Should he be able to give it a go, he’ll be one of the most dynamic playmakers on the playing field. That will only help benefit Utah’s play on the field, and better the chances of those that laid the points at top rated sportsbooks.

NCAA Football Betting Odds

Bet the Holiday Bowl at

As good Northwestern was in the underdog role this season, I can’t help but think Clayton Thorson and company are up against it in this matchup. Northwestern grossly overachieved this season with a number of their games playing out way more lopsided than they ultimately ended up on the scoreboard. I don’t expect the Wildcats anemic offense to do much in the way of anything against what will no doubt be a fired up Utah defense that ranks out as one of the best in the nation. Ultimately, I expect the Utes to wear the Wildcats out offensively in the late stages of the game enough to pull away and bring home the cover. There’s just not enough offensive punch or big play capability on Northwestern’s sideline for me to believe they can stick within 10 of Utah for a full 60 minutes.

CFB ATS Betting Pick: Utah -7.5 at

CFB Score Prediction: Utes 30 – Wildcats 10