Illinois vs. Virginia Odds, Prediction, Pick: Betting Value on Saturday’s Early Over/Under (Sept. 11)
Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images. Pictured: Virginia’s Joe Bissinger, left, and Ronnie Walker Jr. celebrate a touchdown.
- The Illinois Fighting Illini and the Virginia Cavaliers hit the field in a Big Ten/ACC matchup on Saturday morning.
- The Illini are coming off a rough loss to UTSA, so Bret Bielema's squad is looking to get back on track ahead of Week 2.
- Matt Wispe breaks down the college football game below and shares a betting pick and prediction based on his analysis.
Illinois vs. Virginia Odds
-115o / -105u
-115o / -105u
Illinois and Virginia enter this game with slightly different mentalities.
The Fighting Illini are looking to bounce back from their upset loss to UTSA, while the Cavaliers hope to build on their momentum following a season-opening win over William & Mary.
The weather will be nearly perfect for this game with low winds and no forecasted precipitation.
After debuting with a win over Nebraska, Bret Bielema’s Illini fell to UTSA. So, they’ll look for a bounce-back win against a Power Five opponent.
The Illini have scored exactly 30 points in each of their games this year. They have a Success Rate of 45.1% and have scored 4.25 points per opportunity. As you’d expect from a Bielema team, they’ve played at a methodical pace with 26.6 seconds per play.
Despite reports that Brandon Peters returned to practice before the UTSA game, Artur Sitkowski got the start following his relief effort against Nebraska and will likely start again against Virginia.
Sitkowski’s career 13:20 TD-to-INT ratio doesn’t inspire any confidence and neither does his career 5.0 yards per attempt. But through two games, he’s yet to throw an interception and has increased his efficiency to 6.8 yards per attempt.
Mike Epstein and Reggie Love have split the work in the backfield. As a unit, the Illini have averaged 3.8 yards per attempt and have a Rushing Success Rate of 45.5%. Epstein has been ruled out for this weekend so the onus will be on Love, or potentially Chase Brown, to carry the load.
The offensive line has generated 2.99 yards per attempt and only allowed a Stuff Rate of 15.6%.
The key offensive weapon for the Illini offense is former QB and now WR Isaiah Williams, who has accounted for 142 of the team’s 425 passing yards and has one TD.
UTSA somewhat exposed the Illini defense as it racked up 37 points. The defense has allowed a success rate of 45% and has allowed 4.5 points per opportunity. The Illini forced just one turnover in two games which is a large part of why their Havoc rate is just 16.8%.
The passing defense has been slightly below average, allowing a passing success rate of 47.1% and they’ve allowed an average of 3.5 passes over 20 yards per game.
Illinois mostly held star Roadrunners RB Sincere McCormick in check with his 31 carries amounting to 117 yards. And they largely held Nebraska rushers in check with the exception of Martinez’s 75-yard TD run. They’ve allowed a 43.2% Rushing Success Rate and have also given up three rushing touchdowns.
Under Bronco Mendenhall, Virginia has improved from a 2-10 team to an Orange Bowl participant in 2019. The Cavaliers slipped up in the shortened 2020 season, but they kicked off their 2021 campaign with a big win and look to build off of that win as a favorite in this game.
Virginia scored 43 points against William and Mary with a 52.4% Success Rate.
Brennan Armstrong led the offensive attack with 339 passing yards and two TDs and tacked on two short rushing TDs. For his career, Armstrong has averaged 8.4 yards per attempt.
The concern with him has been turnovers. He threw 11 picks in 2020. The Cavaliers have a Passing Success Rate of 56.3%. If they can maintain that level of success, Virginia will be well-positioned for a win.
The Cavaliers mixed up their RB usage with no player outside of Armstrong getting more than five carries and 54 yards. They posted a 48.4% Rushing Success Rate while their offensive line generated 3.76 Line Yards per attempt.
Three receivers had at least four catches in the season opener. Dontayvion Wicks was the most explosive option, averaging 23.5 yards per reception on his four catches. Virginia had seven receptions over 20 yards in the opener.
Over the last three seasons, the Cavaliers have allowed an average of 25.6 points per game but they’ve gotten worse in each successive season. While they kicked off 2021 with a shutout, their 28.3% Success Rate allowed is not sustainable.
Despite the easy matchup, the defensive line failed to control the trenches in a significant manner. They only managed a 5.7% Stuff Rate and allowed 3.27 Line Yards per attempt. But they held their opponent to a 20% Rushing Success Rate despite this.
The defense only faced 16 pass attempts in Week 1 and allowed a 41.2% Passing Success Rate. This is somewhat in line with their 2020 issues where they allowed a 45% Passing Success Rate.
Virginia’s struggles against the pass will likely be exposed more in conference play against opponents looking to create explosive plays in the passing game. It shouldn’t be a major issue here as Illinois will almost certainly lean on the running game.
Illinois vs. Virginia Matchup Analysis
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Illinois Offense vs. Virginia Defense
Virginia Offense vs. Illinois Defense
Pace of Play / Other
The key advantage in this matchup is the Virginia offense against the Illinois defense, but even if Illinois isn’t a great team, it is a significant step up from William & Mary.
But if the small sample size from 2021 is any indication, Virginia should be able to create space with its offensive line to allow for rushing success.
Illinois vs. Virginia Betting Pick
The spread for this game opened at 11 and has been brought down to 10 as 58% of tickets and 57% of the money has come in for Illinois. But the total has been on the rise.
With two teams with middle-of-the-road pace and a near 50/50 split run-pass ratios, this looks like a game where points will be at a premium.
I’d lean toward taking the points with the Illini, but after their struggles last week, I’m more confident betting against traditionally slow and less efficient offenses scoring.