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The Illinois Fighting Illini will have their hands full this weekend when they take on No. 16 ranked Michigan. Illinois comes into this game with a record of 2-3 and 0-2 in the Big ten, while Michigan is 4-1 and 2-1 in the conference. Michigan hasn't lost to Illinois since 2009 and the last time they played in 2016, the Wolverines won 41-8. Michigan is a huge favorite here, giving up 20 points in the early lines. Kickoff is Saturday at 12:00 p.m. noon at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois.
The Michigan Wolverines come into this game ranked No. 16 in the country with a record of 4-1. Their one loss came to No. 8 ranked Wisconsin, who were 3 point favorites. Since then, they have rattled off a couple of wins, thrashing Rutgers 52-0 and then surviving a scare from No. 17 ranked Iowa, winning 10-3 last Saturday at the Big House. The only mystery here is if they'll cover, but they don't want to get in the trap of looking ahead to next week's big game against Penn State.
It's going to be a long season for Illinois. The Fighting Illini won their first two games, but they were against easy non-conference foes, Akron and UConn. Since then they've lost to Eastern Michigan, Nebraska, and Minnesota. There aren't many easy games from here on out playing in the tough Big Ten, so Illinois has a tough road ahead. Michigan hasn't been all that impressive this year and they may be looking ahead to Penn State so can Illinois take advantage of that at home and cover?
Michigan's "masterpiece"The Michigan Wolverines come into this game with a record of 4-1 and 2-1 in the Big Ten. They are ranked No. 16 in the country. Their one loss came to No. 8 ranked Wisconsin, who were 3 point favorites. Since then, they have rattled off a couple of wins, shutting out Rutgers 52-0 and beating No. 17 ranked Iowa 10-3. It was a defensive battle as Michigan had 267 yards of offense compared to Iowa's 261 yards. Michigan held Iowa to just 1-yard rushing -- that's not a typo. Michigan also had 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Quarterback Shea Patterson didn't do much, going 14 for 26 for 147, but he did enough. But Michigan will go as far as its defense takes it.
“That was a defensive masterpiece. Our defense, (defensive coordinator) Don Brown, the coaching staff, our players,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said, reported SB Nation. “Don called a great game, very well prepared. Player-wise, it was just obvious from play one to the last play of the game that everybody was hustlin’, and runnin’, and playing with great effort.”
Michigan's offense has been pretty productive. They average 28 points per game, which ranks 74th in the nation. They average 367 total yards per game, which is 93rd in the country. That includes 238 yards per game in the air, which is 73rd in the country, and 128 ypg on the ground, which is 22nd. The Wolverines defense is awesome. They allow 16 points per game, which ranks 16th. They give up 288 total yards per game, which ranks 18th. They give up 154 ypg in the air, which ranks 7th, and 134 ypg on the ground, which is 50th in the nation.
Illinois looking for a sparkThe Fighting Illini got off to a good start this year, winning their first two games, but it's all been downhill from there. They fell to Eastern Michigan, then lost a close one to conference rival Nebraska. Last week they were drubbed by Minnesota 40-17. they couldn't get anything going, gaining only 248 yards in the game. Plus, starting quarterback Brandon Peters went down with an injury and his status is unclear. Backup Matt Robinson came in and went 15 of 29 for 125 yards. So did he do?
“I think he did OK for a backup quarterback coming into a game in a tough situation," Illinois head coach Lovie Smith said, reported SI.
It's unclear if Robinson will start, but the magic 8-ball points to perhaps.
“Obviously playing on Saturday gives me a different feel coming back to practice,” Robinson told SI. “I actually had that thought earlier (about the experience). When you haven’t played, you don’t know what to expect but once you get in there and know how it is supposed to feel, the next game should be even better.”
Illinois could use an offensive boost. They average 31 points per game, which ranks 57th in the nation. They average 357 total yards per game, which is 103rd in the country. That includes 190 yards per game in the air, which is 109th in the country, and 163 ypg on the ground, which is 63rd. Their defense allows 28 points per game, which ranks 80th. They give up 423 total yards per game, which ranks 96th. They give up 240 ypg in the air, which ranks 82nd, and 183 ypg on the ground, which is 97th in the nation.
- Fighting Illini are 19-39 ATS in their last 58 games after accumulating less than 275 total yards in their previous game.
- Fighting Illini are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games on fieldturf.
- Fighting Illini are 10-26 ATS in their last 36 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Fighting Illini are 2-6 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- Fighting Illini are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
- Fighting Illini are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games in October
- Wolverines are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games in October.
- Wolverines are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS win.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Take the Wolverine giving up the points. Twenty-plus points is a lot of points to give up, considering Michigan is not a very good offensive team. But they are a stellar defensive team and they will likely be facing a back up quarterback in Robinson. It's a recipe for disaster for Illinois, who lost by 23 points to Minnesota. Michigan's a better team than Minnesota, so it's safe to say Michigan will cover easily. The home field won't provide any comfort for Illinois as the road team is 5-2 against the spread in the last 7 meetings between these two rivals.
Prediction: Michigan -21.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Take the under. I love the under in this one. Michigan has a ridiculous defense and held Iowa to 3 points and one yard rushing. Illinois, with a backup quarterback, maybe looking at similar numbers. I really don't see Illinois scoring more than 10 points. Michigan will cruise to an easy win, something along the lines of 35-10. The under is 8-3-1 in the Wolverines last 12 road games versus a team with a losing home record. Also, the under is 7-1 in the Fighting Illini's last 8 home games against a team with a winning road record.