NCAA Football Betting Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini at Iowa Hawkeyes
Illinois and Iowa will go head-to-head in a Big Ten matchup this weekend. Iowa is currently 7-3 and ranked 17th in the nation, while Illinois is unranked with a 6-4 record.
While a 6-4 record may not seem threatening, the Illini are on a four-game winning streak that started with a huge upset over Wisconsin. They most recently posted the biggest comeback in school history when they took down Michigan State two weeks ago on the road.
Illinois is currently averaging 30.7 points per game while allowing 25.7. They are also posting 333 yards of offense per game, but their defense is allowing 409 yards. Led by coach Lovie Smith, Illinois was expected to be more of a threat on defense, but it has finally had a season above .500 for the first time in his tenure.
The Illini are led by starting quarterback Brandon Peters. The junior has thrown for 1,486 yards this season with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. Peters will have a tough test this week, as the Hawkeyes are allowing just under 200 yards per game through the air.
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Getting the job done on the ground for Illinois has been senior running back Reggie Corbin. Corbin has 116 attempts this season for 606 yards and six touchdowns. Illinois has been averaging 150 yards rushing per game this season, while Iowa has allowed an average over 100 yards on the ground.
Leading the team in touchdowns this year at receiver is Josh Imatorbhebhe. The junior has 29 receptions this season for 598 yards at nine touchdowns. He is a big-play threat with a 20.6-yard average per reception.
The Hawkeyes are another team that is a lot tougher than their record may suggest. While they have three losses this season, all three were against teams ranked in the top 20. They were able to outlast Minnesota last week and handed the Gophers their first loss of the season, 23-19.
Iowa is averaging 24 points per game, but its defense is only allowing a 12.4-point average. The Hawkeyes are currently posting 372 yards of offense, while their defense has held teams to 303 yards per game.
Nate Stanley has led Iowa from under center this season. The senior quarterback has thrown for 2,331 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions this year. He is also ranked 35th in the nation for total QBR among quarterbacks. He has also been exceptional at home this season with 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
The leading rusher for the Hawkeyes has been Mekhi Sargent. The junior has 108 carries this season for 482 yards and four touchdowns. While Stanley has been great at home, Sargent is yet to score a touchdown at home this season.
Iowa is at home this week and enters the game as a 15.5-point favorite over the Illini. The over/under is set at 48.5. I would be surprised to see this game hit the over, as these teams are giving up a combined average of 37 points per game.
What To Expect
Although Iowa is at home and has only lost to ranked opponents this season, I believe it will be closer than most people think. Illinois is coming off four straight wins and is enjoying one of its best seasons in a long time. I do think Iowa will walk away with the victory, but I expect it to be closer to a seven-point game.