College Football Odds, Pick for Illinois vs Iowa
Matthew Holst/Getty Images. Pictured: Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.
Illinois vs Iowa Odds, Pick
The Illinois Fighting Illini head to Iowa City to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in a Big Ten West matchup Saturday afternoon.
Illinois has had itself a very eventful few weeks. The past four games the Illini played were all decided by four points or less. Most recently they had a barn-burner in overtime against Indiana, where they won 48-45.
Iowa, known for its low-scoring games, took Rutgers to the cleaners last week, winning 22-0. It was a purely dominant performance, and the question is, can the Hawkeyes keep it up?
Where does the betting value lie in this matchup? Let's find an Illinois vs. Iowa pick in this college football betting preview for Saturday, Nov. 18.
From the looks of it, Illinois is going to be rolling out Luke Altmyer now that he’s back from an injury. That's a little bit of a stunning development given how well backup John Paddock played in his absence. Against the Hoosiers, Paddock threw for 507 yards with four touchdowns and only one interception.
For the most part, Altmyer’s been good but not great. He completes 65% of his passes but can be prone to the occasional interception. Still, he’s helped Illinois become the 37th-best team in Passing Success Rate and 48th in PPA.
Isaiah Williams is the main guy through the air commanding a ton of targets. He and Pat Bryant are major scoring threats who have combined for 11 touchdowns.
The run game is efficient but unspectacular. Kaden Feagin and Reggie Love III receive the majority of the carries, but they aren’t very explosive, ranking 116th in big plays on the ground. Yet, Illinois boasts the 29th-best unit in terms of in Rushing Success Rate.
Allowing 29 points per game isn’t going to get teams many places. This defense has a lot to work on down the road because what it has isn’t working.
After losing Devon Witherspoon to the NFL and defensive coordinator Ryan Walters to Purdue, the pass defense has suffered. That unit ranks 106th in Success Rate and 81st in PPA.
It's a smidge better against the run, coming in at 101st in Success Rate.
Like all defenses, there are some standouts. Jer’Zhan "Johnny" Newton has been a big part of the defensive line, leading the team with 6.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Linebacker Dylan Rosiek also causes Havoc, forcing three fumbles this season while leading the team in tackles.
Ever since Cade McNamara went down in Week 4, Deacon Hill has taken the reins as the man under center. The hulking Hill has had a rough season so far, completing only 46% of his passes. But he's coming off his best performance of the season against Rutgers in which he threw for a season-high 223 yards and completed 64.5% of his passes.
This is certainly a run-heavy team, and the receivers don’t get a lot of volume. Tight end Erick All leads the team in receptions and yards, averaging 14.2 yards per catch with three touchdowns. That's especially notable considering All tore his ACL against Wisconsin on Oct. 14 and hasn't played since.
There’s not much else to be said about the passing game. In offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz's final season, it sits just 130th in Success Rate and 132nd in PPA.
While Iowa likes to run the ball a lot, it’s not very efficient.
Leshon Williams and Kaleb Johnson are the ones who take the majority of the carries, and Johnson just returned from an injury last week. Williams and Johnson have racked up 614 and 332 yards, respectively, as this rushing attack comes in at 131st in Success Rate.
The defense has been one of the best in the country, but it took a major hit this week when Nagurski Award finalist Cooper DeJean suffered a lower-leg injury and it was announced he'd miss the rest of the season.
Luckily for Iowa, Sebastian Castro has had a breakout season, and now, it’ll be up to redshirt freshman Deshaun Lee to fill the void.
Regardless, Iowa’s defense is still really good. It’s third in the nation in points allowed, giving up only 12.3 points per game.
Along with that, the passing defense is among the elite. Even with DeJean out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Hawkeyes continue their success, as they rank sixth in Defensive Passing Success Rate.
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Illinois and Iowa match up statistically:
Illinois Offense vs. Iowa Defense
Iowa Offense vs. Illinois Defense
Pace of Play / Other
|Special Teams SP+||94||10|
|Seconds per Play||25.3 (37)||28.9 (101)|
|Rush Rate||50.6% (100)||59.9% (22)|
Illinois vs Iowa
Betting Pick & Prediction
Whatever happens, it's going to depend on how Iowa’s defense shows up. All season, the Hawkeyes have been dominant on the defensive end and have allowed only one team — Penn State — to score more than 20 on them.
That’s a tall order for the Illini, who have been scratching and clawing for every win they’ve secured over the past four weeks.
As mentioned, this Illinois team is nothing to write home about. I was curious to see how this offense would look with Paddock this week, but with Altmyer coming back, it’ll be a different story.
Losing DeJean could be huge for Iowa, but the Hawkeyes have always built a strong foundation in the secondary under defensive coordinator Phil Parker. I don’t see a major problem arising here.
Per usual, this looks to be heading under the total, like most Iowa games. I just don’t see Illinois being strong enough to break the brick wall that the Hawkeyes have formed.
Pick: Under 31.5 (-115)
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