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College Football Odds & Picks for Ohio State vs. Illinois: Buckeyes Showing Betting Value

College Football Odds & Picks for Ohio State vs. Illinois: Buckeyes Showing Betting Value article feature image

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Fields.

Editor’s note: Saturday’s Ohio State vs. Illinois game has been canceled due to COVID-19 issues at Ohio State.

Ohio State vs. Illinois Odds

Ohio State Odds -27.5 [BET NOW]
Illinois Odds +27.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -3000 / +1120 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 72 [BET NOW]
Time Saturday, noon ET
Odds updated Friday at 12:10 a.m. ET and via PointsBet, where you can get $250 FREE instantly after signing up.

Ohio State travels to Champaign following a 42-35 win over then-No. 9 Indiana. For most teams, a win over a top-10 team would be a highlight regardless of what transpired in the game, but the Buckeyes left with serious questions regarding their secondary.

Illinois enters this matchup at 2-3 following two straight wins, including a 41-23 win on the road against Nebraska. The return of quarterback Brandon Peters from his COVID 19-related absence made a big impact, as the offense put up its largest yardage total for the season.

Last week saw some of the holes in the OSU defense get exploited, but for the second straight week, it was only apparent during the second half. Whether they’re letting their foot off of the gas or they lack depth, the Buckeyes are only 2-2 against the spread on the season, but they’re 3-1 ATS for the first half.

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Ohio State Buckeyes

Despite their offensive struggles against Indiana, the Buckeyes scored 42 points. Indiana did what other teams were unable to do and forced multiple mistakes leading to turnovers, but despite those errors, the Buckeyes still averaged 7.5 yards per play and had a Success Rate of 50.6%.

Justin Fields posted his worst performance as an Ohio State starter against Indiana. Coming into the game, he’d thrown just 11 incompletions and zero interceptions on the season. However, against an aggressive Indiana defense, Fields threw three interceptions and completed only 60% of his passes.

There’s little reason to lose faith in Fields, however. The Buckeyes still hold a 62% Passing Success Rate and average 4.5 passes of 20 or more yards per game.

The questions about the OSU offense before last week were largely around the running back position and the overall rushing attack, but Master Teague quelled most of those concerns with a 169-yard, two-touchdown performance, while Trey Sermon averaged 6.7 yards per carry. The team now owns a 49.1% Rushing Success Rate and is stuffed on just 12.7% of attempts.

The OSU defense appears to be a real concern. The Buckeyes are allowing a 42.7% Success Rate and a 45% Passing Success Rate. It doesn’t appear to be a defensive line issue, as their front seven is creating Havoc on 12.2% of plays. Ohio State also has a 24.2% Stuff Rate, and it’s allowing only 2.25 Line Yards per attempt.

But the secondary’s losses from 2019 have been on full display. Indiana put up six passing plays over 20 yards, and it’s allowed 4.25 plays of 20+ yards per game.

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Illinois Fighting Illini

Now in his fifth season, Lovie Smith has helped Illinois improve slightly year over year.

The Illini averaging 25.25 seconds per play but only 66 offensive plays per game, which ranks 99th in the country. They have a 39.4% Success Rate and have struggled to finish drives, averaging just 2.88 points per opportunity. But they’ve managed to avoid Havoc this season, allowing it on just 15.9% of plays.

Peters started his second game of the year against Nebraska and accounted for 241 total yards of offense. For the year, he’s averaging 6.6 yards per attempt and is completing just 59.1% of his passes. The overall passing attack, which has featured three different starters, boasts a Success Rate of 34.1% and averages 3.6 passes over 20 yards per game.

The Fighting Illini have two backs averaging more than 5.0 yards per carry. The line has averaged 2.9 Line Yards per attempt and has allowed a Stuff Rate of only 19.3%. They own a Rushing Success Rate of 42.6%.

The Illinois defense has been a bit of a sieve. It allows a 49% Success Rate and has allowed 4.19 points per opportunity, but it has created Havoc on 16.8% of plays — which includes 6.4 tackles for loss per game — and has forced 13 turnovers on the year.

Betting Analysis & Pick

This matchup isn’t particularly close based on talent.

Ohio State ranks third in the team talent composite compared to Illinois at 39th. Illinois doesn’t have the passing attack to exploit the secondary of Ohio State. And if Ohio State’s run defense plays as well as it did against Indiana, Illinois is unlikely to score more than a few points.

I like Ohio State to cover the 27.5 points, but I’m more confident they’ll cover the first-half line because of the recent struggles in the second half.

I’m taking Ohio State -14.5 in the first half and would play it up to 19.5.

Pick: Ohio State -14.5 1H (up to 19.5).

[Bet Ohio State -15.5 1H now at PointsBet risk-free up to $250]

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