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Northwestern vs. Kentucky - 12/29/17 College Football Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Kentucky Wildcats (7-5) at Northwestern Wildcats (9-3)

College Football: Friday, December 29, 2017 at 4:30 pm (Nissan Stadium)

The Line: Northwestern Wildcats -7 -- Over/Under: 51 See the Latest Odds

TV: ESPN

The Kentucky Wildcats and Northwestern Wildcats meet Friday in the college football Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium.

The Kentucky Wildcats head into this game losing four of their last six games but have a shot at eight wins for the first time since 2007. The Kentucky Wildcats haven’t won a bowl game since the 2008 college football season. Stephen Johnson is completing 60.7 percent of his passes for 2,048 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. Johnson has just one touchdown pass in his last six games. Garrett Johnson and C.J. Conrad have combined for 786 receiving yards and six touchdowns while Tavin Richardson has 22 receptions. The Kentucky Wildcats ground game is averaging 169.7 yards per contest, and Benny Snell, Jr. leads the way with 1,318 yards and 18 touchdowns. Defensively, Kentucky is allowing 28.6 points and 425.7 yards per game. Mike Edwards leads the Kentucky Wildcats with 89 tackles, Josh Allen has seven sacks and Derrick Baity has two interceptions. 

Northwestern vs. Kentucky - 12/29/17 College Football Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

The Northwestern Wildcats enter this game on a seven-game winning streak and have a shot at double-digit wins for the third time in the last six years. The Northwestern Wildcats are just 3-10 all-time in bowl appearances. Clayton Thorson is completing 60.6 percent of his passes for 2,809 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Thorson has one or less touchdown passes in six of his last eight games. Bennett Skowronek and Flynn Nagel have combined for 1,102 receiving yards and seven touchdowns while Macan Wilson has 32 receptions. The Northwestern Wildcats ground game is averaging 160.9 yards per contest, and Justin Jackson leads the way with 1,154 yards and nine touchdowns. Defensively, Northwestern is allowing 19.8 points and 358.8 yards per game. Paddy Fisher leads the Northwestern Wildcats with 110 tackles, Joe Gaziano has eight sacks and Kyle Queiro has four interceptions.

The Wildcats are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games, 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 bowl games and 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games overall. The Wildcats are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 bowl games, 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games overall. The over is 4-1 in Wildcats last 5 games overall and the under is 21-6-1 in Wildcats last 28 non-conference games.

There's reason to consider Kentucky and the free touchdown, as there's a lot of motivation on this team to produce its first bowl victory in nearly a decade. It's also only about three hours from Lexington to Nashville, so there should be a lot of Kentucky fans in the building for this one. However, the Kentucky Wildcats have been getting waxed on the defensive end, allowing a combined 86 points in their last two games and 30-plus points in five of their last seven games. Northwestern finished the season as one of the hotter teams in the country and knows how to win close games. When Thorson and Jackson are feeding off each other, which they're doing currently, Northwestern is a tough team to stop. Not to mention Pat Fitzgerald is a coach you don't want to give extra time to. Kentucky has to prove its ready to take that next step. I'll take Northwestern by double-digits here. 

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