Friday NCAAF Odds, Picks | How to Bet Kansas vs Illinois, Indiana vs Indiana State (Sep. 8)

Friday NCAAF Odds, Picks | How to Bet Kansas vs Illinois, Indiana vs Indiana State (Sep. 8) article feature image

Matt Roembke/Action Network.

Friday. Night. Lights.

There's something special about the lights shining on the gridiron right before a monster Saturday slate that features wall-to-wall action.

Unlike Thursday, we have two games slated for Friday: an in-state rivalry between Indiana and Indiana State and a Big 12 vs. Big Ten battle when Kansas hosts Illinois.

Action Network staff writer BJ Cunningham and contributor Cooper Van Tatenhove broke down both Friday night college football games and came through with a betting pick for each.

Read on to see how they're betting both games. Now, let's start the weekend on a high note.

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How We're Betting Friday's NCAAF Games

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football betting staff is targeting from Friday's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

GameTime (ET)Pick
7 p.m.
7:30 p.m.
Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Indiana State vs. Indiana

Friday, Sept. 8
7 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Under 45.5

By Cooper Van Tatenhove

Friday Night Lights. That's what we have here, folks.

Sure, this in-state matchup between Indiana State and Indiana may seem vanilla on paper, but there are plenty of storylines and angles we can examine in order to cash a ticket on Friday night.

So, let’s take a look at the odds and make a pick for Indiana State vs. Indiana in this college football betting preview for Friday, Sept. 8.

Indiana State Sycamores

The Sycamores and head coach Curt Mallory are coming off an abysmal start to their 2023 campaign. Indiana State got shut out at home, 27-0, against Eastern Illinois in Week 1 after turning the ball over a total of six times.

Mallory and company will be looking to quickly right the ship as the Sycamores head into Bloomington for what will be a highly emotional game for both teams. This emotion is derived from the fact that Indiana State's Mallory is the youngest son of the winningest coach in Indiana football history, Bill Mallory.

This close relationship and respect will be important to note in a game that is likely to get out of reach early.

Overall, Indiana State’s biggest question marks come on the offensive side of the ball. With quarterback Cade Chambers still “week-to-week,” the Sycamores turned to Gavin Screws and Evan Olaes to man the offense.

Screws started the game vs. Eastern Illinois but was replaced in garbage time by Olaes after throwing a pair of interceptions. Olaes was not much better in relief, throwing two picks of his own.

This poor quarterback play will have to turn around fast against an Indiana defense that generated a 19.7% Havoc percentage against an uber-talented Ohio State defense in Week 1.

The defensive side of the ball may be the only source of positivity for this Indiana State team. The Sycamores defense played well against Eastern Illinois despite the Panthers scoring four times as a direct result of Indiana State turnovers.

The Sycamores defense was led by redshirt sophomore Maddix Blackwell, who racked up 11 total tackles, the first double-digit tackling performance of his career.

.@maddixblackwell has double-digit tackles tonight and now adds an interception to his name!

Sycamores take over at their own 40 following the 35-yard return#MarchOn |

— Indiana State Football (@IndStFB) September 1, 2023

Overall, Indiana State’s defense allowed Eastern Illinois to convert just five of its 12 third-down attempts and forced the Panthers into a turnover on downs on all three of their fourth-down tries.

Indiana’s offense presents a whole new level of competition for this Indiana State defensive unit, but the Hoosiers offense doesn’t come without questions after it failed to find the end zone in its first outing against Ohio State.

Indiana Hoosiers

Although Indiana didn't secure the upset it was looking for against Ohio State, head coach Tom Allen has a number of positives to build on, particularly on the defensive side.

Indiana’s defense kept the Hoosiers competitive into the second half against a talented Buckeyes offense by limiting explosive plays on the ground and through the air. Ohio State generated an explosiveness ranking of just 1.02, resulting in only 23 total points.

In particular, Indiana posted a 12.7% Havoc ranking from its defensive backs, Ohio State QB Kyle McCord threw for 239 yards with no touchdowns and one pick.

This level of play in the secondary is promising as the Hoosiers face an Indiana State offense with plenty of questions at the quarterback position.

Offensively, Indiana left much to be desired as it recorded just one point per scoring opportunity and failed to find the end zone. Overall, the Hoosiers gained only eight first downs and 153 yards of total offense.

Although Indiana State will present a much easier test defensively, this lack of offensive production will certainly be a concern for Allen and his staff as their season unfolds.

Indiana State vs Indiana

Betting Pick & Prediction

This is an in-state matchup highlighted by two teams that left much to be desired on the offensive end in both of their openers.

Indiana State will look to limit turnovers on offense as it attempts to replace Chambers at quarterback, while Indiana will need a much higher level of production from signal-callers Brendan Sorsby and Tayven Jackson if it's to be competitive in the Big Ten this season.

Combine these offensive troubles with two head coaches who have zero desire to let this get out of hand, and we have all the makings of this matchup going under the posted total of 46.

Look for Indiana State to be competitive on defense and Indiana to shut things down once it gets a comfortable lead, given the relationship between Allen and Mallory.

Illinois vs. Kansas

Friday, Sept. 8
7:30 p.m. ET
Illinois +3

By BJ Cunningham

Illinois travels to Lawrence to face Kansas in Friday night's lone FBS vs. FBS matchup.

The Illini needed a game-winning drive to beat Toledo, 30-28, in their opening game. That wasn't the start they were looking for coming off an 8-5 season.

Illinois lost a lot of its top players on both offense and defense, but it isn't as bad as the market is implying.

Kansas took care of business against Missouri State in its opener. However, the big story was that Jalon Daniels didn't play because of a back injury. Per our own Brett McMurphy, all signs point to him suiting up Friday.

Kansas QB Jalon Daniels, who missed last week's game vs. Missouri State w/back tightness, expected to play Friday vs. Illinois, source told @ActionNetworkHQ. Daniels is Big 12 preseason Offensive Player of Year

— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) September 3, 2023

Kansas has all the hype after going to its first bowl game in over a decade, but if the Jayhawks don't fix their defensive issues, they might not return to a bowl.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Bret Bielema went out and brought in quarterback transfer Luke Altmyer from Ole Miss to lead Illinois' offense.

Altmyer had a decent game in the opener, going 18-for-26 for 206 yards and two touchdowns while also running for 76 yards on five attempts.

Altmyer was a four-star recruit coming out of high school who had previously played in just one college game — the 2021 Sugar Bowl.

Bielema's offense is built on running the football. Illinois ran the ball 56.7% of the time last season, and that held true in the first game as the Illini ran on 57% of plays and averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

Star running back Chase Brown has moved on, but Reggie Love III proved to be very good in a backup role. He had an 84.8 PFF rushing grade last season while averaging 4.6 yards per carry and forcing a whopping 25 missed tackles on 72 carries last season.

Bielema's team has two NFL-caliber offensive linemen, so it shouldn't see much drop-off in the run game.

Illinois saw the departure of defensive coordinator Ryan Walters, who became the head coach at Purdue, but Aaron Henry was promoted from defensive backs coach, so there won't be much change to the system.

The Illini returned only six starters on defense, and it showed in the opener as they gave up over 400 yards against Toledo. However, Toledo ran 79 plays, which means Illinois gave up 5.3 yards per play, so it's not as bad as it looks.

Plus, this is the same defense that ranked No. 1 in the country in Finishing Drives Allowed last season.

Illinois is stacked in the front seven after bringing back its top two defensive linemen, including Jer'Zha "Johnny" Newton, who earned first-team All-American honors after posting a 91.9 run defense grade with 36 quarterback hurries.

The problem is Illinois lost three starters in the secondary, all of whom went to the NFL.

Kansas Jayhawks

The Jayhawks return a whopping 10 starters on offense with the only starter lost being on the offensive line.

Last season, this offense was the best in the nation in EPA/Play and a unit that ranked third in explosiveness.

Daniels is now extremely comfortable in an Andy Kotelnicki offense that's very difficult to prepare for given the range of motion and formations he throws at opponents.

The Jayhawks QB posted an 80.4 PFF passing grade last season as his squad led the nation in EPA/Pass.

Daniels is a dynamic runner, but he wasn't that effective over the second half of the season. Now with a back injury, you have to ask how effective he's going to be as a runner, or if we'll see some action from backup Jason Bean.

Image via PFF.

Seven starters return to a defense that allowed 6.3 yards per play. KU ranked 120th in Success Rate Allowed, 123rd in EPA/Play Allowed and 131st in Havoc last season.

Any team with a decent offensive line can dominate Kansas up front. The Jayhawks finished 2022 ranked 125th in Stuff Rate, 123rd in Defensive Line Yards and 123rd in EPA/Rush Allowed.

Illinois should be able to run the ball at will against Kansas in this one.

Illinois vs. Kansas

Betting Pick & Prediction

Kansas has all of the hype and flash on the offensive side of the ball, but there are real problems defensively, which is the main reason why it faded down the stretch last season.

Then you throw in the fact that Daniels likely isn't 100%, with a back injury that makes it difficult for him to use his dual-threat ability.

Illinois has lost a lot on the defensive side of the ball and isn't going to produce the numbers it did last season, but being No. 1 in the country in Finishing Drives Allowed isn't something to ignore.

Illinois has a lot of talent in its front seven, and it's capable of shutting down Kansas' rushing attack.

I only have Kansas projected as a -0.7 favorite, so I like the value on Illinois at +3 or better.

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