The task of every team besides Nebraska in the Big 10 West this year is to surpass expectations. The 2020 Northwestern College Football Playoff odds are proof of that.
Although the Wildcats won the division last season and could see a huge upgrade to the quarterback position this year, Northwestern has questions along both lines that beset it.
2020 Northwestern College Football Playoff odds: offseason recap
The Wildcats have achieved success under Pat Fitzgerald by being solid if unspectacular. By playing good defense and controlling the clock, they would stay in games.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Hunter Johnson could push that envelope. He has the arm along with a couple of freshman targets in Genson Hooper-Price and Bryce Kirtz to stretch the field on the roster.
Whether Northwestern has a dangerous running game largely depends on the performance of the offensive line. Assistant coach Kurt Anderson is now in charge of that unit, and immediate improvement is necessary.
While the pass rush and ability of linebackers to patrol the field shouldn’t be a concern, the run-stopping ability of this defense is up in the air. The secondary should be solid, as many players who had injury issues last season are healthy.
If the offensive line can improve, the Wildcats identify a run-stuffer and Johnson performs, Northwestern could end up in several postseason conversations. That would be surprising for the oddsmakers.
Breaking down the 2020 Northwestern College Football Playoff odds
Though a law to legalize sports betting in Illinois has been passed, the books in the Land of Lincoln won’t be open in time for the beginning of the Wildcats’ season. Illinois residents have options, however.
Sportsbooks in Iowa have begun taking bets, and the same go live in Indiana on Sept. 1. Until Illinois sports betting ramps up, those are the closest options for Illinoisans.
Las Vegas has the Wildcats 1000/1 to win the College Football Playoff. Other books that could eventually be available to Illinoisans have odds as well.
- DraftKings +20000
- FanDuel +30000
- PointsBet +25000
- William Hill +50000
DraftKings and SugarHouse also offer a bet on whether the selection committee tabs Northwestern as one of the four playoff teams. The line at both books currently sits at +10000.
The Wildcats likely have to win the Big 10 title game in order to be considered. Sportsbooks are more friendly to Northwestern in that regard.
Other Northwestern futures: Big 10 title and win total
Of the aforementioned books, the best line on the Wildcats claiming Big 10 supremacy is at PointsBet. Northwestern is +4000 to win the Big 10 championship game there.
FanDuel has the best action on the Wildcats getting to the conference title game by winning the Big 10 West for a second consecutive year. That book has Northwestern +650 on that bet.
To deny Nebraska of the division title that most experts expect it to win this year, the Wildcats need to surpass their win expectancy. Most books have them at either six or 6.5 wins in 2019.
Regardless of which win total is chosen, all the books are giving better odds on the under. The best odds on Under 6.5 wins are on DraftKings and SugarHouse at +100. FanDuel has the best line on Under 6 at +135.
Betting on Northwestern to win fewer than six games this year may prove to be folly, however. This team has the potential to not only defend its division title but claim a conference championship, as well.