Illinois vs. Cal Odds, Betting Pick: Spread, Prediction for 2019 Redbox Bowl

Illinois vs. Cal Odds, Betting Pick: Spread, Prediction for 2019 Redbox Bowl article feature image

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Nate Hobbs

  • Cal is a 6-point betting favorite over Illinois in the 2019 Redbox Bowl, which the total up three points to 44.
  • Illinois won some wild games this season, while Cal's offense really struggled without quarterback Chase Garbers, though he'll return for this game.
  • See our experts' picks for Cal vs. Illinois in the Redbox Bowl below.

Illinois vs. Cal Odds

  • Odds: Cal -6
  • Total: 44
  • Time: 4 p.m. ET
  • TV: FOX
  • Location: Santa Clara, Calif.

Illinois had one of the more amazing statistical seasons in 2019, winning just enough to eclipse a season win total of 4.5 and reach the postseason.

The Fighting Illini had postgame win expectancies of less than 50% in victories over Wisconsin and Michigan State. Against the Spartans, Illinois had a 14% postgame win expectancy in a game they trailed 31-10 entering the fourth quarter.

All in all, Illinois had some of the best turnover luck in the nation and won two games in which they were outgained in yards per play.

Cal started the season off with a bang in victories at Washington and Ole Miss and finished with a defense rank of 45th in SP+, a downfall from the 2018 rank of 13th.

While the defensive efficiency was down slightly from 2018 rates, quarterback Chase Garbers averaged 8.1 yards per attempt with just two interceptions after four games.

Then things fell apart.

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Lovie Smith

Garbers suffered an injury in what would start a four-game losing streak for the Bears. They averaged just 14 points per game without him.

When asked about the Cheez-It Bowl performance last season — quite possibly the worst offensive bowl game in modern college football history — Garbers was motivated to have his best day in the Redbox Bowl.

Cal looked to have its healthiest roster of the year for this game until suspensions were passed down before Christmas. Wide Receiver Jordan Duncan, second on the team in receptions and receiving yards, was among the handful of players named out for the Redbox Bowl.

On defense, Trey Turner III and Teven Paul will be suspended against Illinois. Safety Ashtyn Davis will also miss the bowl game after a surgical procedure.

Those three starters accounted for 10 passes defensed, two interceptions and three forced fumbles. Quarterback Brandon Peters is likely to target the Cal secondary early and often considering the Illini have a rank in the top 40 in pass explosiveness.

Illinois ranks top 25 in pace of play, and with injuries in the secondary, the Illini are expected to go deep early. The Cal defense was most vulnerable to pass-first offenses in losses to Washington State and USC. The Fighting Illini also rank 14th in the nation in red zone touchdown scoring percentage.

As for the Cal offense, Garbers will have a healthy offense against an Illinois defense that was 75th in passing success rate.

Illinois gave up 44 passing plays over 20-plus yards for a rank of 93rd in the country.

Unlike last year’s Cheez-It Bowl, this game may open up early.

Pick: Over 43 or better

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