College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Illinois vs. Minnesota: Why Illini Will Continue Spoiler Role

College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Illinois vs. Minnesota: Why Illini Will Continue Spoiler Role article feature image

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  • No. 20 Minnesota hosts Illinois at Huntington Bank Stadium at Noon ET on ESPN2.
  • The Gophers (-700) are nearly favored by 15 thanks to four straight wins in conference play.
  • Matt Wispe makes a prediction and previews the Big Ten clash below.

Illinois vs. Minnesota Odds

Illinois Odds+14.5 (-105)
Minnesota Odds-14.5 (-115)
Moneyline+500 / -720
Over/Under44 (-115 / -105)
TimeSaturday, Noon ET
Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet

Minnesota and Illinois is a traditional Big Ten matchup. Not that it's a rivalry between meaningful programs, but more so that it's a contest with a total in the 40s and teams that seemingly hate the passing game.

Illinois has largely played the role of spoiler within the Big Ten rather than contender. The program has a 3-6 record and sits 4-4-1 against the spread. The Fighting Illini have gone under the total in all but one game this season.

The Golden Gophers have bounced back from their rocky start with four consecutive victories that have led to a 6-2 record. They are 5-2-1 ATS and have gone over in four games this season.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois Offense

Bret Bielema has brought an identity to the Illinois offense. That identity is slow and methodical.

The Illini are averaging 67.6 plays per game and 320 yards per game. They've averaged 17.6 points per game and 4.7 yards per play. Also, they have an overall Success Rate of 39.9% and have averaged just 2.56 points per opportunity.

With Artur Sitkowski out, Brandon Peters is back under center for Illinois. He's completed 53.5% of his passes for 5.9 yards per attempt. He's thrown for three touchdowns and just one interception. The team has a 31.4% Passing Success Rate and average just 1.77 20-plus passes per game.

Chase Brown has rushed for 704 yards and four touchdowns this year and leads the Illinois backfield.

The team is averaging 4.5 yards per carry on their 39.4 attempts per game, with a Rushing Success Rate of 46.2 percent. The offensive line has been at the center of their success, with 3.43 Line Yards per attempt and only a 13.1% stuff rate.

Illinois Defense

Illinois is allowing 23.3 points per game and 5.7 yards per play. The Illini have allowed an overall Success Rate of 45% and 3.53 points per opportunity. They've also generated Havoc on 13.4% of plays.

Illinois is allowing 241.8 passing yards per game. Opposing quarterbacks have completed 61.7% of their passes for an average of 7.5 yards per attempt. The Illini are allowing a 44% Passing Success Rate and four passes of more than 20 yards per game. They have defended 33 passes and forced five interceptions.

They're allowing 159.8 rushing yards per game on an average of 4.2 yards per attempt. They've allowed a 46.4% Rushing Success Rate. Illinois' defensive line has failed to win the trenches, as it has forced a 7.1% stuff rate and has allowed 3.51 Line Yards per attempt.

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Minnesota Golden Gophers

Minnesota Offense

Minnesota is averaging 28.4 points per game and 5.7 yards per play. And the Gophers play even slower than Bielema's team.

They're averaging 32.6 seconds per play and 65.4 plays per game. They're scoring 4.08 points per opportunity and have limited Havoc to 11.6% of plays.

The Gophers are averaging 147.8 passing yards per game, which ranks 122nd nationally. Tanner Morgan is completing 60.8% of his passes for an average of 8.2 yards per attempt. They have a Passing Success Rate of 43.3% and average 2.375 20+ yard passes per game.

Minnesota's running-back room has been decimated by injuries, but that doesn't seem to be changing the Gophers' offensive game plan.

The team is averaging 223 rushing yards per game and have averaged 4.7 yards per rush. The Gophers have a 45.3% Rushing Success Rate, along with an offensive line generating 3.26 Line Yards per attempt.

Minnesota Defense

Minnesota is conceding an average of 18.9 points per game and 5.2 yards per play. The Gophers allowed a 39.5% Success Rate and 3.84 points per opportunity. They've forced a 17.5% Havoc rate.

Minnesota is allowing an average of 210.3 passing yards per game for an average of 6.81 yards per attempt. Opposing quarterbacks have completed 56.7% of their passes.

The Gophers have allowed a 39.5% Passing Success Rate and an average of 3.0 20+ yard passes per game. They have forced five interceptions and have defended 24 passes.

The Gophers are allowing an average of 93 rushing yards per game at an average of 3.4 yards per rush. They've allowed a 39.2% Rushing Success Rate.

The defensive line has largely won the trenches. Opposing offensive lines have only generated an average of 2.85 Line Yards per attempt and they've forced an 18.6% stuff rate.

Illinois vs. Minnesota Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Illinois and Minnesota match up statistically:

Illinois Offense vs. Minnesota Defense
Rush Success4635
Line Yards1939
Pass Success12142
Pass Blocking**9358
Big Play11314
Finishing Drives12770
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Minnesota Offense vs. Illinois Defense
Rush Success3995
Line Yards45122
Pass Success8886
Pass Blocking**4039
Big Play8724
Finishing Drives5145
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling2484
Middle 82326
SP+ Special Teams1256
Plays per Minute74129
Rush Rate58.5% (41)72.4% (4)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Minnesota should have a fairly significant advantage on both sides of the ball against Illinois.

Illinois vs. Minnesota Betting Pick

This game falls into one of my favorite pro systems — Road Dog Low Totals — which has an ROI of 15.2% and a winning percentage of 59.4 percent. If this matchup is as low scoring as expected, it's unlikely either team will pull away for a two-touchdown margin of victory.

In this matchup — with neither team likely to be high scoring — a 14-point line favors the team getting points, so I'll be backing the underdog in an ugly Big Ten game.

Also, with the mounting injuries for Minnesota and offensive incompetence for Illinois, I'll likely make a small play on the under as long as it's around 44 points.

Pick: Illinois +14.5 or better

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