Illinois vs Nebraska Odds, Picks: Why to Bet Huskers’ Team Total

Illinois vs Nebraska Odds, Picks: Why to Bet Huskers’ Team Total article feature image

Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images. Pictured: Nebraska quarterback Casey Thompson.

Illinois vs Nebraska Odds

Saturday, Oct. 29
3:30 p.m. ET
Illinois Odds
-105o / -115u
Nebraska Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Illinois has found itself in the AP Top 25 rankings this season for the first time since 2011 after an excellent start to the 2022 season.

The Fighting Illini sit atop the Big Ten West and are in the prime position to represent the conference in the Big Ten Championship next month.

They're in the position that Nebraska expected itself to be in when the year began, but the Cornhuskers have massively underperformed and already fired head coach Scott Frost.

The Cornhuskers have shown some signs of life under interim coach Mickey Joseph with wins over Rutgers and Indiana. Now, they have a chance to knock off a ranked opponent at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln on Saturday afternoon.

Both teams had last week off to prepare for this game, so there's no decided rest advantage for either program. But the line did move from Illinois -6.5 through the key number of seven, and it might be time to sell high on the Illini after their excellent start to the season.

Illinois Fighting Illini

What you think of Illinois is heavily dependent on how much you truly believe in the excellent defensive numbers it has across the board. I tend to think a big part of its dominance is a product of the offenses it's faced to this point.

In Week 0, Illinois stayed in Champaign to play Wyoming, which is a member of the terrible Mountain West this season. The schedule also includes anemic Iowa, Virginia without an offensive line, Wisconsin just before it fired Paul Chryst and Minnesota without Tanner Morgan for most of the game.

It's important to use priors in a game like this, or else I could read off the numbers that say Illinois ranks top-five in Success Rate against both the run and pass and leads the country in Havoc and Finishing Drives.

If you really believe in those offenses, it may be able to shut down Ohio State or Michigan in potential future games with them.

The Illini do have one hole defensively: They allow big plays as a unit. Illinois ranks just 115th in defensive explosiveness and could get exposed for a few big plays now that a real offense can take advantage.

The defenses Illinois has faced have been better than the group of offenses, so the numbers are more realistic. Illinois ranks in the 50s in Standard Down Success Rate and efficiency but sits outside the top 100 in passing downs.

Can we really trust DeVito to get margin? Illinois has played four Big Ten games and three against starting quarterbacks. Two were decided by just three points.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers

Nebraska's defense is really hard to buy into or believe in as it gets exposed week after week.

The Huskers rank outside the top 100 in both Passing and Rushing Success Rate Allowed and cause almost no Havoc to get the opposing offenses off schedule.

When looking at the Illinois offense, though, you don't see impressive numbers across the board, either.

Nebraska's offense is clearly the best offense that Illinois has faced all season, and we're going to start to see some holes in the Illini defense because of that. The Cornhuskers have played a considerably more difficult schedule and are top-25 in Standard Down Success Rate, explosiveness and EPA/Play.

The Huskers also do an excellent job of preventing Havoc and staying in front of the sticks offensively.

The pass blocking hasn't been great, so Illinois could get some pressure in this game. But if it doesn't, Casey Thompson has a 91 PFF grade from clean pockets and averaged over 10 yards per pass.

The Illini defense could get exposed downfield in this matchup as they face the first competent passing attack of the season.

Illinois vs Nebraska Matchup Analysis

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

Illinois Offense vs Nebraska Defense
Rush Success56120
Line Yards8686
Pass Success64106
Pass Blocking**3643
Finishing Drives11194
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Nebraska Offense vs Illinois Defense
Rush Success402
Line Yards267
Pass Success324
Pass Blocking**12418
Finishing Drives471
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling2381
PFF Coverage381
SP+ Special Teams92128
Seconds per Play27.1 (86)24.0 (22)
Rush Rate58.8% (29)54.7% (58)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Illinois vs Nebraska Betting Pick

I have no faith in Nebraska's defense to get many stops, but I also don't buy into the early-season dominance of the Illini defense at all. It's a unit that was expected to be good but not great in the preseason and has faced an extremely favorable schedule of opponents to this point.

Nebraska has its flaws, but its strength is the efficiency of the offense. It loves to go uptempo and maximize possessions. It's likely to be playing from behind, and there are holes in this Illinois secondary that Thompson can exploit.

Illinois isn't playing Wyoming, Iowa, Indiana or Wisconsin anymore. Nebraska had a full week off to prepare to beat the Illini defense, and I think it will on Saturday.

Nebraska will keep this close by scoring, and I like the team total over under the key number of 21.

Pick: Nebraska Team Total Over 20.5 (-120)

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