Northwestern Wildcats vs Duke Blue Devils Prediction, Odds and Preview - 09/18/2021

by Amedeus Mastrangelo

Game Time: 4:00 pm ET, Saturday, September 18, 2021
Venue:  Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC
Where to Watch:  ACC Network


Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings:  Point Spread:  Wildcats -3, Blue Devils +3; Over/Under:  50 points
Bet365:  Point Spread:  Wildcats -3, Blue Devils +3; Over/Under:  50 points
BetMGM:  Point Spread:  Wildcats -3, Blue Devils +3; Over/Under:  49.5 points

Season Record

Northwestern Wildcats:  1-1 (5th place, Big Ten West)
Duke Blue Devils:  1-1 (4th place, ACC Coastal)
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Northwestern Wildcats vs Duke Blue Devils Preview and Analysis

Recent Form
Northwestern Wildcats:  won 1
Duke Blue Devils:  won 1

Offensive Analysis

Last season the Northwestern Wildcats averaged a 61.3% completion percentage, 197.9 passing yards, and 1.3 touchdowns per game through the air. They also averaged 163 rushing yards and 1.8 touchdowns per game on the ground. The Duke Blue Devils were averaging a 56.3% completion percentage, 222.6 passing yards, and 1 touchdown per game through the air. They also averaged 157.1 rushing yards and 1.7 touchdowns per game on the ground.

Defensive Analysis

Last season the Northwestern Wildcats were allowing teams a 51.9% completion percentage, 195.3 passing yards, and 0.9 touchdowns per game through the air. They also allowed 145.9 rushing yards and 0.6 touchdowns per game on the ground. The Duke Blue Devils were allowing teams a 57.1% completion percentage, 231.6 passing yards, and 2 touchdowns per game through the air. They also allowed 215.8 rushing yards and 2.8 touchdowns per game on the ground.


Wildcats vs Blue Devils Prediction

Northwestern is coming into this matchup with a 1-1 record overall and is 0-1 in their conference games this season. They lost their first game of the college football season to the Michigan State Spartans 38-21 and then followed up with a win in their previous game 24-6 against the Indiana State Sycamores. Hunter Johnson did not have a good game in that one completing 9/16 passes for 66 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Evan Hull had a great game as he led the team in rushing with 126 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 carries. Anthony Tyus III also played well in the run game with 71 rushing yards on 10 carries. The receiving corps did absolutely nothing in that one as Malik Washington led the way with 27 receiving yards and 1 touchdown on 2 receptions. Chris Bergin led Northwestern's defense with 8 solo tackles. No one on the defense had an interception but 3 different players were able to get to the quarterback for sacks. They have scored 45 total points in their first 2 games while they have allowed their opponents to score 42 points against them. Their offense is averaging 337.5 YPG while their defense is allowing 340 YPG.

Duke is coming into this college football game with a 1-1 record overall, this will be their 3rd non-conference game in a row. They lost their first game of the season to the Charlotte 49ers 31-28 but then followed that one up with a win in their last game 45-17 against the North Carolina A&T Aggies. Gunnar Holmberg played well in his last time on the field completing 20/27 passes for 270 yards, zero touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Their run game did not do too much as Mataeo Durant led the team in rushing with 41 yards and 3 touchdowns on 15 carries. Holmberg also found the end zone twice on the ground in that one. Jalon Calhoun had a good game for the receiving corps with 98 receiving yards on 5 receptions while Jake Bobo was right behind him with 90 receiving yards on 9 receptions. J'Marick Woods led Duke's defense with 4 solo tackles and 4 assisted ones. No one on the defense recorded a sack or an interception in that game. Duke has scored 73 points in their first 2 games while allowing their opponents to score 48 points against them. The Duke offense is averaging 506.5 YPG while the Blue Devils defense is allowing 371 YPG.

Duke is a 3 point underdog at home in this game and will likely have trouble moving the ball against Northwestern. The Wildcats like to force teams to play their style of low scoring running and defensive games if they can control the pace of it. The total is a bit high here so there is some value for bettors to place a bet on the under in this game as it should stay a low scoring one as neither team will score too many against each other.

Wildcats Blue Devils Prediction:  Our NCAAF Pick for Saturday, Sep 18, 2021 (4:00 pm ET start time) is Wildcats 23 Blue Devils 20.
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NCAAF Betting Trends

Northwestern Wildcats: 6-4 ATS as a favorite. 4-3 ATS in road games.
Duke Blue Devils: 9-14 ATS in all games. 4-9 ATS as an underdog.

Key Injuries

Northwestern Wildcats:  B. Holman (WR) Ques Sat - Head injury. J. Jefferson (WR) Ques Sat - Undisclosed injury. B. Kirtz (WR) Ques Sat - Undisclosed injury.
Duke Blue Devils:  M. Smith (TE) out for season - Knee injury.

Players to Watch

Northwestern Wildcats: Bryce Kirtz and Stephon Robinson Jr. are both players to watch in this game. Both of them were quiet in their last game and will want to change that here making their presence known as they both can be dynamic players. Robinson actually has a team-high 95 receiving yards on the season and will be looking to build on that in this game.
Duke Blue Devils: Mataeo Durant is one player to watch in this game. He has surpassed Jordan Waters and leads the team in rushing having 2 outstanding games so far. Look for him to build on that as he is looking to have a breakout season.

Notable Quotes

"I want to lift up all the families that lost their lives that day, not only that were in the Towers, but also the first responders and all those that tried to save our great Americans that perished that day and get people out of the Tower. So, you know, it's a heavy-hearted week, I think, for our entire country, and one that I'll definitely visit with our guys about, but look forward to honoring our heroes as our guests on Saturday and several local ones during the game." - Pat Fitzgerald before last week’s game.
“For the first time in many years I felt like a rookie because I’d never faced the circumstances that we had.” - David Cutcliffe on the obstacles that covid-19 has presented the past year.

Starting Lineups

Northwestern Wildcats
WR Holman, Berkeley 
WR Kirtz, Bryce 
WR Robinson Jr., Stephon 
TE Mangieri, Charlie 
QB Johnson, Hunter 
RB Hull, Evan 
Duke Blue Devils
WR Bobo, Jake 
WR Pancol, Eli 
WR Calhoun, Jalon 
TE Marwede, Jake 
QB Holmberg, Gunnar 
RB Durant, Mataeo 
RB       Waters, Jordan 

Statistical Leaders

Northwestern Wildcats
Passing: H. Johnson (349)
Rushing: E. Hull (213)
Receiving: S. Robinson Jr. (95)
Touchdowns: E. Hull (2)
Sacks: A. Adebawore (1.5)
Tackles: C. Bergin (16)
Duke Blue Devils
Passing: G. Holmberg (498)
Rushing: M. Durant (296)
Receiving: J. Bobo (178)
Touchdowns: M. Durant (6)
Sacks: N/A
Tackles: L. Young IV (8)
Northwestern Wildcats: Pat Fitzgerald (16th season)
Duke Blue Devils: David Cutcliffe (14th season)

Weather Forecast

83 degrees F partly cloudy, 75% humidity, 0% chance of rain, up to 5 mph wind speeds NE.

Amedeus Mastrangelo

About the Author:

Amedeus Mastrangelo has been heavily wagering on all sports for years and plays just about everything, including sides, totals, favorites, underdogs, against the spread, alternative spreads, first half, second half, player props, and futures. The bottom line is, if Mastrangelo can see an edge in any way shape or form, then he's going to take advantage.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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