College Football Odds & Picks for Iowa vs. Illinois: Bet the Under in Gritty Game

College Football Odds & Picks for Iowa vs. Illinois: Bet the Under in Gritty Game article feature image
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Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Iowa Hawkeyes players (from left to right): Amani Jones, Chancey Golston and Djimon Colbert.

  • Iowa heads to Champaign as almost two-touchdown favorites attempting to pick up its fifth win of the season.
  • Illinois will hope its turnover-heavy defense can get to Iowa QB Spencer Petras, who is protected by a typically strong Hawkeyes offensive line.
  • Mike Bainbridge lays out his betting strategy for this game and why he’s focused on the total.

Iowa vs. Illinois Odds

Iowa Odds -13.5 [BET NOW]
Illinois Odds +13.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -590/+420 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 51.5 [BET NOW]
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
TV FS1
Odds as of Saturday afternoon and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today.

It has been a one-sided affair of late when the Iowa Hawkeyes (4-2) and Illinois Fighting Illini (2-3) meet up on the gridiron.

The Hawkeyes have won each of the last six meetings by a combined score of 214-60, leading them to a  9-1 record in the last 10 head-to-head matchups.

Both teams head into Saturday’s affair riding win streaks, as Iowa has reeled off four consecutive victories after starting 0-2 on the season. On the other side, Illinois was a winner of two consecutive games before last week’s tilt with Ohio State was called off due to the Buckeyes’ increasing COVID-19 cases.

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Iowa Hawkeyes

The Hawkeyes are back to playing Iowa football again in 2020, meaning dominant play along the offensive line after a couple of down seasons.

The group ranks 10th nationally in run blocking, according to Pro Football Focus, and sit fourth in the country in Power Success Rate, per Football Outsiders. Iowa is also keeping the pocket clean for sophomore quarterback Spencer Petras, allowing just seven sacks in six games. That puts the Hawkeyes at 25th in passing down sack rate.

Name the defensive category and Iowa is among the best — not only in the Big Ten — but nationally as well. The Hawkeyes are third in total defense (322.8 YPG), run defense (109.3 YPG) and scoring defense (16.7 PPG). Iowa is also fifth in the conference in defensive Havoc created, forcing 19 sacks. The program is third in the conference in interceptions (10) as well.

During its current four-game winning streak, Iowa has outscored its opponents by a combined 151-55 margin, averaging just under 38 PPG during that span.


Illinois Fighting Illini

The Illini are going to need to diversify their offense to have a shot at upsetting Iowa. Running the football isn’t the issue for Illinois, which ranks second in the Big Ten at 222 yards per game. It has also had five individual 100-yard rushing performances in the last three games, two by each of its primary tailbacks.

However, the issue will be running into the heart of the Iowa defense, as the Hawkeyes are third in the conference and 20th nationally, allowing just 109 yards per game and just 2.83 YPC. Unfortunately, Illinois will be short-handed after losing offensive linemen Alex Palczewski for the season with a leg injury.

Brandon Peters’ return to the lineup against Nebraska helped provide some balance to the offense. The quarterback completed 72 percent of his passes for 205 yards and a touchdown.

Illinois still ranks dead last in the conference in passing, averaging just 173 yards through the air over its last seven games dating back to 2019. That lack of success throwing the ball is a contributing reason why the Illini are converting on just 39.7 percent of their third-down attempts.

To no one’s surprise, considering this is a Lovie Smith-coached defense, the Illini have been exceptional at turning over opposing offenses. They recorded three interceptions in two consecutive games.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Did Nebraska provide the blueprint in order to stymie this Iowa offense by stacking the box and forcing Petras to beat you through the air?

Star running back Tyler Goodson topped 100 yards rushing, but it was a struggle to get there on 30 attempts. Expect the Illini to employ a similar strategy, while the Hawkeyes will undoubtedly do the same against Illinois’ run-heavy approach, setting things up for a grind-it-out Big Ten affair.

Our PRO projections show this total closer to 49.2 points. Backing the under here is the wise play, considering how both defenses have been performing at this point in the season.

Pick: Under 51.

[Bet the Iowa-Illinois total now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

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