College Football Odds, Picks for Illinois vs. Northwestern

College Football Odds, Picks for Illinois vs. Northwestern article feature image

Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Chase Brown and Tommy DeVito.

Illinois vs Northwestern Odds

Saturday, Nov. 26
3:30 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Illinois Odds
-115o / -105u
Northwestern Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Illinois looks to end its three-game skid as it travels to Evanston, Ill., for a Big Ten matchup against Northwestern.

The Fighting Illini will look to bounce back after a devastating 19-17 defeat against the undefeated Michigan Wolverines. Illinois took control of the game in the third quarter with a 17-10 lead before being outscored 9-0 in the fourth.

It took a few fourth down conversions and some help from the referees to keep Illinois from the upset. And head coach Bret Bielema made his displeasure known in his postgame press conference.

After late calls and non-calls, Bret Bielema was not pleased postgame. Voicing his displeasure in some of the calls:

"Think our kids did a lot to win the football game, and continually have things go against us."

— Andy Olson (@WCIA3Andy) November 19, 2022

But now they need to try and regroup for a matchup with Northwestern. The Wildcats have been the bottom of the Big Ten this season only finding a victory in its opening game of the year.

How the Wildcats find offensive production against an elite Illinois defense is a key factor in this matchup. 

Illini Succeed Behind Brown, Defense

There is no denying that Illinois was hosed against Michigan. But the group will need to have a short-term memory and refocus to take care of business against Northwestern.

The Fighting Illini’s offense starts with its rushing attack that ranks 26th in rush rate. Cowbell running back Chase Brown has been a monster this season, leading the nation with 1,582 rushing yards.

Brown is averaging 5.1 yards per carry on his 309 attempts while punching in nine touchdowns. He’s averaging 144 rushing yards this season and could be in for a big game against a Northwestern defense that ranks 108th in yards per carry,

Quarterback Tommy DeVito has put together a very under-the-radar season. The senior quarterback has completed 70% of his passes while tossing 15 touchdowns to only three interceptions. He’s averaging 7.1 yards per pass attempt and over 200 passing yards per game.

But the defense has been the engine behind this program.

The group is allowing only 14 points and 273 yards per game, both ranking among the top five nationally. It's stout against the run, allowing 3.3 yards per carry and even better against the pass, allowing 5.5 yards per attempt. Both ranked among the top 12 in the country.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

How Will Northwestern Move the Ball?

The Northwestern season turned upside down quickly. The Wildcats secured a victory over Nebraska in Week 0 as 12-point underdogs. But since then, the program has lost all 10 of its matchups by an average of 14 points.

Among those losses was Duke, Miami (OH), and worst of all, FCS opponent Southern Illinois.

The main culprit for the struggles has been an offense that ranks among the worst in the country. The group averages fewer than two touchdowns per game and 330 yards of total offense.

The Wildcats own a rush rate of 51% but have averaged only 3.1 yards per carry this season. There is little chance the offense will find any success on the ground against an Illinois defensive front that is among the best in the country.

Northwestern also doesn’t have a passing attack to expose Illinois. The group has averaged 6.3 yards per pass attempt, which ranks 112th nationally.

Sophomore quarterback Cole Freeman was given his first start of the season last time out. He completed 9-of-20 passes for 78 yards and an interception against Purdue.

Moving the ball methodically against Illinois defense will be a tall task in this matchup. 

Illinois vs Northwestern Matchup Analysis

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

Illinois Offense vs. Northwestern Defense
Rush Success83102
Line Yards82109
Pass Success4095
Pass Blocking**36104
Finishing Drives10988
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Northwestern Offense vs. Illinois Defense
Rush Success1102
Line Yards1135
Pass Success966
Pass Blocking**1829
Finishing Drives1163
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling2389
PFF Coverage3127
SP+ Special Teams46131
Seconds per Play26.8 (73)23.4 (14)
Rush Rate58.3% (31)52.1% (78)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Illinois vs Northwestern Betting Pick

This is a tough matchup for Northwestern to end its season. The group may not be in for a pounding on the scoreboard, but it's going to be physically beaten in this matchup.

Illinois' defense is one of the top groups in the entire nation that ranks in the top five in nearly all defensive metrics. The Fighting Illini will be able to have its way against this offense and moving the chains will be extremely difficult for the Wildcats.

I can’t envision Northwestern’s offense exceeding double-digit points in this matchup. Illinois’ offense will lean on Brown and the clock will continue to run in this matchup behind run-heavy offenses.

Illinois' slow tempo combined with its run-heavy offense isn't built to blow teams out. For those reasons, I’m playing the under in this game as Northwestern’s offense will surely be outmatched.

Pick: Under 37.5 or Better

What is QuickSlip?

QuickSlip is an Action Network feature that allows users to automatically pre-load their bet slip at FanDuel Sportsbook.

How would you rate this article?

This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.