Minnesota vs. Illinois Betting Odds & Picks: Don’t Expect Much Offense

Minnesota vs. Illinois Betting Odds & Picks: Don’t Expect Much Offense article feature image

Photo by David Berding/Getty Images. Pictured: Mohamed Ibrahim (Minnesota)

Minnesota vs. Illinois Odds

Saturday, Oct. 15
12 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Minnesota Odds
-105o / -115u
Illinois Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Minnesota heads on the road to Champaign to take on the newly-ranked Fighting Illini in a crucial Big Ten West matchup.

Minnesota is coming off a bye, but the last time we saw the Gophers, they were losing at home to Purdue. That is the only blemish on the Gophers' record, but with how up in the air the Big Ten West is, the Gophers cannot afford another loss within the division.

Illinois has cracked the top 25 for the first time since 2011 after its compelling 9-6 win over Iowa.

With that being said, Illinois may be working with a backup quarterback on Saturday if Tommy DeVito is unable to play.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Gophers Offense

Minnesota has been an incredibly efficient offense, ranking second in Success Rate. But when it finally played a halfway decent defense in Purdue, the Gophers did not run the ball effectively at all, gaining 1.8 yards per carry on the ground.

However, the Gophers' star running back Mohamed Ibrahim did miss the contest and will be back on the field Saturday.

Ibrahim is one of only four running backs in college football to rush for 100+ yards in every game played this season. He's averaging 4.36 yards after contact per attempt and has 19 rushes of over 10+ yards.

While that is impressive, here is the list of opponents he's faced: New Mexico State, Western Illinois, Colorado and Michigan State. That's not exactly murderer's row.

Tanner Morgan had been incredibly efficient as a passer leading up to the Purdue game. He was averaging 10 yards per attempt and had over a 91 PFF passing grade with six Big Time Throws and only one Turnover Worthy Play.

Then against Purdue, he put up a PFF passing grade of 59.9 and had three Turnover Worthy Plays.

In this game last year against Illinois, it was the same story. He averaged 6.4 yards per attempt, had two Turnover Worthy Plays and owned a 53.0 PFF passing grade.

So, with how good the Illinois secondary has been, it's going to be hard for Minnesota to move the ball through the air, especially with Morgan's number one target, Chris Autman-Bell, out for the season

Gophers Defense

Minnesota has a really stout front seven that's top-25 in both Stuff Rate and Rushing Success Rate Allowed.

In fact, the Gophers are only allowing 3.9 yards per carry.

The Gophers' secondary is only allowing 5.1 yards per attempt, ranks third in Passing Success Rate Allowed and is fourth in EPA/Pass Allowed.

They have two of the best safeties in the Big Ten in Tyler Nubin and Jordan Howden, who are both inside the top 15 in the country in terms of coverage grade, per PFF.

Tyler Nubin jumps the route, INT! Nubin and Minnesota’s defense can to play today! pic.twitter.com/0pt302Wf36

— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) October 1, 2022

Most importantly, the Minnesota defense ranks 25th in EPA/Play Allowed and third in Finishing Drives, so it's going to be very difficult for the Illini to score, especially if they have backup quarterback in.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Illini Offense

Starting quarterback DeVito suffered an injury against the Hawkeyes and is questionable to play against Minnesota, along with slot receiver Isaiah Williams.

#Illini Bielema on the guys who were injured against Iowa: "I don't think any of them will be season ending"

Says Tommy DeVito, Taz Nicholson, Isaac Darkangelo, Isaiah Williams should be back in return for bye week but not sure how many will be available for Minnesota

— Bret Beherns (@WCIA3Bret) October 10, 2022

That means it might be Rutgers transfer Artur Sitkowski handling the snaps, which is a massive downgrade for Illinois.

When he came in against Iowa, he averaged 3.9 yards per attempt, which really isn't much worse than his 2021 season.

Last year, Sitkowski averaged just 4.9 yards per attempt, had a 37.5 PFF passing grade and posted 14 Turnover Worthy Plays. He was truly one of the worst Power Five quarterbacks in college football.

Image via PFF

That means Illinois is likely going to rely on its run game, which hasn't impressed this season outside of Chase Brown's total yardage.

The Illini rank 82nd in EPA/Play and 104th in Rushing Explosiveness. It's going to be difficult for Illinois to move the ball if it has to become one dimensional.

Illini Defense

Illinois boasts one of the best defenses in the country. It's allowing only 3.8 yards per play, which is the fourth-best mark in the nation.

It also ranks first in the country in EPA/Play Allowed and Finishing Drives. Opponents have crossed Illinois' 40-yard line 24 times and have come away with just 41 points.

The Illini front seven allows only 2.4 yards per carry while ranking first in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and third in EPA/Rush Allowed.

The secondary is just as good as the front seven, allowing only 5.2 yards per attempt, ranking seventh in Passing Success Rate Allowed and seventh in EPA/Pass Allowed.

It's going to be very difficult for Minnesota to move the ball.

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Minnesota vs. Illinois Matchup Analysis

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

Minnesota Offense vs. Illinois Defense
Rush Success51
Line Yards83
Pass Success277
Pass Blocking**7314
Finishing Drives131
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Illinois Offense vs. Minnesota Defense
Rush Success6220
Line Yards7460
Pass Success8810
Pass Blocking**11885
Finishing Drives1153
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling2311
PFF Coverage24
SP+ Special Teams6692
Seconds per Play31.5 (129)27.0 (78)
Rush Rate64.9% (9)58.1% (33)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Minnesota vs. Illinois Betting Pick

Both of these teams play at an incredibly slow pace. Minnesota plays at the second-slowest pace in the country at 31.27 seconds per play, while Illinois sits 89th at 26.77 seconds per play.

Additionally, there are supposed to be sustained crosswinds at 15 mph throughout the entire game.

With two of the best defenses in the Big Ten, a slow pace and most likely a backup quarterback, I only have 31 points projected for this game. I like the value on under 39.5, which is currently available at DraftKings

Pick: Under 39.5

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