Rodger put out an article about the recent release of a large number of point spreads, and I can never resist big piles of data. I have very mixed feeling about gamblers, but I will take their opinion over a pundit any day.
Just for reference, here are the released spreads for NU games:
8/31: Northwestern -10.5 vs. California
9/7 Syracuse vs. Northwestern -13
10/5: Ohio State vs. Northwestern +8
10/12: Northwestern +6 vs. Wisconsin
10/19: Minnesota vs. Northwestern -15
10/26: Northwestern -12 vs. Iowa
11/16: Michigan vs. Northwestern -3
11/23: Michigan State vs. Northwestern -3
11/30: Northwestern -13 vs. Illinois
Based on those lines, I'll hazard a guess at the remaining three games:
9/14: Western Michigan at Northwestern -17
9/21: Maine at Northwestern -21
11/2: Northwestern at Nebraska -6
A simplistic view of these lines would lead to the conclusion that Vegas has Northwestern going 9-3 this year, but we can actually get a lot more information than that. To do so, we have to convert these lines into expected winning percentage of each game. Obviously, there's no exact way to do that, but this site gives a decent approximation.
After running all the Northwestern games through that thing, we get the following winning percentages:
Western Michigan .9138
Michigan State 0.5744
Ohio State 0.2619
Summing these up, we get an expected win total of 8.1.
If we want even more fun, we can also calculate the probability of any particular win total and put it into a chart.
(Note: This assumes each game is independent of any other. Strictly speaking, that's probably not true.)
I also have a graph, but it's too much work to get on to this page.
As a final media-buzz note, only 13 teams in the country and 1 in the Big Ten have more games listed in the released lines. This reflects well on both Northwestern's scheduling and the amount of interest in Northwestern's games. Leaving out the Pac-12 (which has an unusual number of teams listly highly), here are the other schools with at least 9 games in the list: Notre Dame, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Georgia, Florida, and Clemson. Football-wise, that's some excellent company.
For some more fun, we can also convert those spreads in a ratings system. I threw out spreads more than 21 and gave 3 points home field advantage. Here is a top 25, plus other B1G teams and Northwestern opponents.
These are out of the 80 teams that had at least one usable spread, so Vegas really does not like Cal. Also, Nebraska might be more like a 3 point favorite, and only because it's at Nebraska.