Illinois vs. Indiana Odds & Picks: Why to Bet Friday’s Favorite in Week 1

Illinois vs. Indiana Odds & Picks: Why to Bet Friday’s Favorite in Week 1 article feature image

Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Allen (Indiana)

  • Bret Bielema and the Illinois Fighting Illini take on Tom Allen and the Indiana Hoosiers in Big Ten college football action on Friday night.
  • The Hoosiers enter as short favorites, but the line has been moving in favor of the Illini throughout the week.
  • Read on for BJ Cunningham's full betting breakdown and pick for Illinois vs. Indiana.

Illinois vs. Indiana Odds

Friday, Sept. 2
8 p.m. ET
Illinois Odds
-110o / -110u
Indiana Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

After a resounding win in Week 0 over Wyoming, Illinois heads to Bloomington to open its Big Ten season against Indiana.

Bret Bielema's squad was dominant in a 38-6 win over Wyoming last Saturday, outgaining the Cowboys 477 to 217 yards.

It's Illinois' second year under Bielema after going 5-7 last season. It did have a couple of big double-digit underdog upsets in year one, though, beating Penn State and Minnesota on the road.

After a historic 2020 season, Indiana fell completely flat in 2021. Tom Allen's squad went 2-10, finishing the season on an eight-game losing streak and with an 0-9 record in the Big Ten.

Allen has a rebuild on his hands, as well, because only 12 total starters return on both sides of the ball. Indiana will have to replace literally all of its skill position players.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Fighting Illini Offense

For the first time in a while, Illinois will have a competent quarterback under center. That's right — no more Artur Sitkowski. Instead, Tommy DeVito takes over after four years at Syracuse.

DeVito wasn't very efficient in the opener against Wyoming, though, going 27-for-37 for only 194 yards. His PFF passing grade was 74.8, and he did have two big-time throws with zero turnover-worthy plays.

DeVito showed on Saturday that he's going to greatly benefit from a more traditional offense that leans heavily on the rushing attack.

The Illini finished in the top half of college football in Rushing Success Rate last year and ranked in the top 25 in Offensive Line Yards. They showed that in the opener, rushing for 260 yards and 6.3 yards per carry.

Lead back Chase Brown, who averaged 5.9 yards per carry in 2021, looks like a potential breakout candidate in the Big Ten, as he went for 151 yards and two tocuhdowns in the opener.

In 2021, he ranked sixth in college football in yards after contact per attempt at 4.14, per PFF. So, he will be a big problem for Indiana's front seven, which loses three starters, including a First Team All-Big Ten linebacker.


— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 27, 2022

Fighting Illini Defense

Last season, Illinois did an unbelievable job of limiting explosive plays. It ranked second in college football in Explosiveness and fifth in Rushing Explosiveness Allowed.

But that's not to say teams weren't able to move the ball on the ground against the Illini.

Illinois finished outside the top 65 in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, Passing Success Rate Allowed, Havoc and Defensive Line Yards, per College Football Data.

The defensive line loses two starters, but the biggest concern is in the secondary.

Illinois only has two starters returning with nobody with starting experience behind them. The Illini were 38th in EPA/Pass Allowed last season and weren't tested in Week 0 because Wyoming is one the heaviest rushing attacks in college football.

Illinois will not be in the top 50 as a secondary again, and facing an Indiana wide receiving core that received a lot of talent through the transfer portal could be a bad matchup on Friday night.

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Indiana Hoosiers

Hoosiers Offense

Indiana was flat out horrible offensively last season, ranking outside the top 115 in both Success Rate and Explosiveness. Well, Allen went out and did something about it.

Through the transfer portal, Indiana went out and got 15 new players (6th most in Power 5).

One of those players was former Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak. Bazelak regressed in 2021 after a pretty solid 2020 campaign. In 2020, his PFF passing grade was 77.4, and he averaged 7.3 yards per attempt. In 2021, his passing grade dropped to 66.0, and he only averaged 6.7 yards per attempt.

However, you have to take his 2021 season with a grain of salt.

As you can see from the table below, Bazelak was playing really well up until the game against Texas A&M. Then he got hurt versus Vanderbilt in Week 9 and was never the same.

It didn't help that Eli Drinkwitz never put his full support behind him and started rotating three different quarterbacks after Bazelak got injured.

Image via PFF

He will have some pretty good weapons to throw at Indiana because Florida State transfer D.J. Matthews Jr. is returning after suffering a season-ending injury in Week 3 against Cincinnati last season.

Before the injury, Matthews was lighting up a Bearcats secondary — that had two All-Americans — for five catches and 120 yards. They also landed big-play threat Emery Simmons via North Carolina (243 yards on 11 catches last season).

Indiana also added former Auburn running back and four-star recruit Shaun Shivers.

He was never the lead back at Auburn and is one of the smallest player on the field at 5-foot-7, but boy is he quick. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry in his career at Auburn and is not afraid of contact, averaging 3.5 yards after contact per carry.

He will instantly improve the Indiana rushing attack that was non-existent last year, ranking 90th in EPA/Rush. Additionally, Illinois did give up 5.9 yards per carry to Wyoming in Week 0.

Hoosiers Defense

Indiana was really bad defensively last season, finishing 102nd in EPA/Play Allowed, 100th in Success Rate Allowed and 117th in Finishing Drives Allowed. Not to mention the Hoosiers lost their First Team All-Big Ten linebacker Micah McFadden, along with two starters on the defensive line.

The good news for Indiana is it should have a really good secondary. It gets two starters back, brings in Ole Miss transfer Jonathan Haynes, and most importantly, gets back 2020 First Team All-American corner Tiawan Mullen, who missed most of 2021 due to injury.

Indiana CB Tiawan Mullen forced an incompletion on 30% of targets in 2019.

2nd highest rate in college

— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 31, 2020

The bottom line is with the talent on the roster and the number of Power 5 transfers Allen brought in, this unit cannot be as bad as it was in 2021.

Illinois vs. Indiana Betting Pick

Even though Illinois looked really impressive against a one-dimensional Wyoming team in Week 0, Indiana will be a step up in competition.

The Hooisers truly did improve their squad through the transfer portal and should be on their way out of the basement of the Big Ten.

I have the Hooisers projected at -5.1, so I like the value on them at home in the opener at -3 (DraftKings) or better.

Pick: Indiana -3 

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