In their first college football game ever outside the United States, the Northwestern Wildcats are 13-point underdogs in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, to be played in Ireland on Saturday, Aug. 27. The Wildcats’ opponent is fellow Big Ten member Nebraska.
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Kickoff is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. CT on Aug. 27 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, which is typically the site of European soccer action. The game, which serves as the first game of the 2022 college football season that features Power 5 teams, is the first collegiate football action in Ireland since 2016. In both 2020 and 2021, games in Dublin were canceled due to travel restrictions caused by COVID-19.
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Also on Saturday: Illinois vs. Wyoming betting odds for season opener
Northwestern vs. Nebraska Betting Odds
The odds from DraftKings Sportsbook for the college football season opener list Nebraska as a 13-point favorite over Northwestern. The moneyline price for Nebraska is -500. Sports bettors who believe Northwestern can score an outright upset can get a +400 moneyline price on the Wildcats.
Notes on Northwestern vs. Nebraska
- The Cornhuskers are 9-6 all-time against Northwestern.
- According to Sports Reference College Football, since Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference, eight of the 11 meetings between the Wildcats and Cornhuskers have been decided by eight or fewer points.
- In 2021, the Wildcats scored fewer than 14 points in seven of their last eight games.
- Nebraska averaged 447.6 yards of offense per game last season, which ranked 20th in college football.
Wildcats 2022 NCAA Football Outlook
The Wildcats will need to find ways to move the football and get into the end zone. Last season the Cats tallied scored 14 or fewer points in seven of their last eight games on the way to a 3-9 record. The last time Northwestern had a winning record in a full season was in 2018.
Prior to the struggles in 2021, head coach Pat Fitzgerald had guided the Wildcats to bowl games in five of six seasons. In his tenure in Evanston, Fitzgerald has taken his team to 10 bowl games, more than twice as many as all other Northwestern head coaches combined.
Optimism is tempered on campus north of Chicago, with the defense having allowed 429.5 yards per game last season, and few promising players on the horizon on that side of the ball. The Wildcats will be challenged to halt offensive juggernauts like Ohio State and Iowa in the conference.
So what should Northwestern fans feel good about? What will get fans to feel good about doing the Wildcat Growl and Claw this season?
The offensive line returns four good starters. Does that thrill you, Purple Nation?
Sophomore middle linebacker Bryce Gallagher is going to be a joy to watch in the middle of the field. The problem may be that Gallagher will have to make too many tackles.
The quarterback apparently will be junior Ryan Hilinski, who still hasn’t seemed to create an identity since transferring from South Carolina in 2020. Since he’s only ever thrown 14 touchdown passes, Hilinski will be handing the ball off to 1,000-yard rusher Evan Hull a lot.
But ultimately, the Wildcats are never really guided by their offensive eleven. For them, it begins with the defense. Fitzgerald builds his team to be a methodical unit that wears down opponents and creates opportunities through field position. After a dismal 2021 season, a win in Ireland in what is being called “Week Zero” of the college football season, would help change the mood surrounding this team.
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh