Virginia vs. Illinois Odds, Picks: Betting Guide to This Big Ten-ACC College Football Battle

Virginia vs. Illinois Odds, Picks: Betting Guide to This Big Ten-ACC College Football Battle article feature image

Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Illinois running back Chase Brown.

  • Virginia takes on Illinois on the road in a college football Week 2 matchup between the ACC and Big Ten.
  • The Cavs beat Richmond by 17 last week, while the Illini are 1-1 after defeating Wyoming in Week 1 and losing to Indiana in Week 2.
  • Mike McNamara breaks down the game and offers up his best bet.

Virginia vs. Illinois Odds

Saturday, Sept. 10
4 p.m. ET
Virginia Odds
-109o / -115u
Illinois Odds
-109o / -115u
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

We've got a Big Ten/ACC battle in Champaign on Saturday afternoon.

These two teams met a year ago in Charlottesville, with Virginia running away with a 42-14 victory. Illinois has made some significant strides since that game, and it will look to exact some revenge at home.

This isn't a matchup that will jump off the page in terms of the most intriguing nonconference battles, but both programs have considerable goals for this season and a lot to prove.

Where does the value lie in what should be a competitive, back-and-forth affair? Let's find out.

Virginia Cavaliers

When Bronco Mendenhall announced that he'd be stepping away from the program last year, many were unsure which direction Virginia would go.

Well, the Tony Elliott era got off to a smooth start in Week 1, as the Cavaliers handled business at home against Richmond. Elliott has injected some buzz into the program is someone who has plenty of familiarity with the ACC.

It helps to have one of the most lethal quarterbacks in the entire country at your disposal. Brennan Armstrong is the heart and soul of the Hoos offense, and man, was he effective in 2021. The senior from Shelby, Ohio, threw for nearly 4,500 yards a year ago, going for 31 touchdowns in the process.

Armstrong looked the part once again last week against the visiting Spiders, and he even used his legs to run for over 100 yards on 10 carries.

Running back Perris Jones also looked explosive out of the backfield, and his emergence would give this offense a lot of balance for the rest of the season.

Illinois' defense played pretty solid overall last week against Indiana, but Armstrong and company will be a whole different animal for the Illini to attempt to contain.

On the other side of the ball, the Virginia defense really struggled last season. The Cavaliers finished outside the top 100 in all of FBS in Success Rate against both the pass and the run. Some reinforcements were brought in during the offseason, but this will be a legitimate test against an effective Illinois rushing attack.

Virginia gave up a ton of big plays a year ago, and as a result, the Cavaliers were involved in plenty of high-scoring affairs. Illinois is more of a methodical offense, so it will be interesting to see if UVA can generate enough negative plays to get the Illini off the field.

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Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois enters this matchup with Virginia as one of the few teams in America to already play two games. The Illini opened the year with a comfortable 38-6 victory at home over Wyoming.

Then there was last Friday night when Illinois led for pretty much the entire second half at Indiana. The Hoosiers scored a touchdown with under a minute left to ultimately snatch the game away from the Illini.

Illinois' offense continues to be heavily dependent on the ground game, which has always been a hallmark of Bret Bielema's teams.

Star running back Chase Brown has already gone for 55 carries on the season, averaging over six yards a pop. Expect Brown to continue to receive a heavy dosage of handoffs against a Virginia defense that's unproven against the run.

While Virginia was soft last year against the run, it was just as bad — if not worse — in defending the pass. This could be an opportunity for Syracuse transfer Tommy Devito to take some chances down the field in the play-action game. Virginia will put some points on the board, so the Illini offense is going to need to finish drives to outpace the Cavaliers.

One positive from the Indiana game was the fact that the Illini converted 9-of-17 third-down attempts. They did this largely by staying on schedule and creating third-and-short situations.

The flip side, however, was the fact that Illinois turned the ball over four times. If Devito and the rest of this offense can clean up the turnovers, there's no reason to believe they can't move the ball down the field on Virginia.

Virginia vs. Illinois Betting Pick

Virginia punched Illinois in the mouth out of the gates when these two teams squared off last season.

I believe you'll see the narrative flip in the return game in 2022. Bielema's team should come out angry after squandering the lead late to Indiana in its Big Ten opener.

Illinois has decisive advantages in the trenches, and Brown should be in line for a big day out of the backfield. With Armstrong under center, Virginia should be able to pick up its fair share of chunk plays. But I have much more confidence in the Illini offense finishing drives in the red zone.

Give me the home Illini to bounce back from last week and earn their second victory of the season, covering the number in the process.

Pick: Illinois -4 (Play to -5)

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