Trevor Siemian passing yards O/U: 250.5
We knew entering the season that much of the team’s success would be predicated on Trevor Siemian’s play. The senior QB struggled in his first two outings. He missed throws — behind, in front and high — and failed to overcome some of his low points from last season. Against Western Illinois, though, Siemian can begin his comeback and torch what should be an overmatched secondary. Still, we’re not sold on how aggressive this passing game will be in a must win situation.
Steven Goldstein: UNDER
Nick Medline: UNDER
Justin Jackson carries O/U: 11.5
Jackson is the unquestionable highlight for NU so far this season. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry in the first two games of his collegiate career. He’ll again play a role in the offense on Saturday — it just depends on how much. Treyvon Green and Solomon Vault are searching for more opportunities. That factor may lead to a more balanced distribution of carries against Western Illinois.
Kyle Prater catches O/U: 5.5
Last week, Prater caught seven passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. Without Tony Jones or Christian Jones, Prater sort of emerged as the No. 1 guy on the depth chart. He excelled against NIU, with his scoring play brilliant. Still, there are a couple of things playing against. First, there are a bunch of other guys who need their reps. Second, it was just one game. We’ll need to see more.
Defensive sacks O/U: 2.5
This screams “big game” for NU’s eager defensive ends. No matter what, the Wildcats will want to look excellent against WIU. Even against an FCS opponent, NU has something to “prove.” It’s still a must win situation, and they want to make the proverbial statement by attacking the Western Illinois offensive line. It also helps that this team has Dean Lowry — and perhaps Ifeadi Odenigbo gets in the mix.
Turnovers forced O/U: 1.5
Nick VanHoose interception? Matt Harris interception? We’re hoping for the secondary to gain some confidence after two recent tests. VanHoose has shown flashes. Harris had some difficulties last week. Neither has yet shown the play making ability that could help to turn this season’s fortunes. That, coupled with some fumbles, could lead to the desired lopsided score in favor of NU. If not, this might leave this game in the balance.
Northwestern points scored O/U: 34.5
FCS games usually result in a quick blowout or long, drawn out affairs. Here’s the thing: Western Illinois already experienced what it’s like to face a B1G opponent. They lost to Wisconsin 37-3 a couple of weeks ago, and while that might look good for NU, the tested Leathernecks could cause some problems. Northwestern figures to post some early scores and finally gain some offensive rhythm. That just might be more difficult than expected.
NU number of players with receptions: 9.5
The Wildcats can still salvage their offense by using a number of weapons. They have some rising wide receivers, three usable superbacks and running backs who can catch passes out of the backfield. Now, Stephen Buckley plays wide receiver. Pierre Youngblood-Ary and Austin Carr are fighting for some leftover reps. A successful NU team this weekend should involve players up and down the roster. Or, they could rely on Prater, Shuler and the top of depth chart.
Treyvon Green rushing yards: 45.5
Green’s been overshadowed by Justin Jackson early in the season. He’s also used to heavy reps and shouldn’t be overlooked in the offensive equation. They under-utilized him in the first two weeks and can re-establish him in key situations against WIU. We can imagine that Green will be among the key factors in McCall’s gameplan this week.