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College Football Odds, Prediction for Northwestern vs Illinois: Bet Illini in In-State Rivalry

College Football Odds, Prediction for Northwestern vs Illinois: Bet Illini in In-State Rivalry article feature image
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Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Illinois Fighting Illini Quarterback John Paddock (4).

  • The Northwestern Wildcats take on the Illinois Fighting Illini in an in-state college football conference rivalry on Saturday.
  • Illinois enters as a -6.5 favorite with an over/under of 48.
  • Check out our full betting preview and prediction for Northwestern vs Illinois below.

Northwestern Wildcats vs Illinois Fighting Illini Odds

Saturday, Nov. 25
3:30 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Northwestern Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+6.5
-110
48
-110o / -110u
+185
Illinois Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-6.5
-110
48
-110o / -110u
-225
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAF odds here.

Champaign, Illinois, welcomes us to a rivalry week matchup for the Land of Lincoln Trophy between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Illinois Fighting Illini. The Illini currently possess the trophy and look to retain it for a third straight year.

Northwestern will look to keep up its hot streak in the Big Ten after signing David Braun to a contract after he served as an interim coach to begin the season.

This matchup tends to be a hard-fought one as winter sets in on the state of Illinois.

Who has the best chance of coming out on top in this one? Let's get to our Northwestern vs Illinois prediction and picks.


Check out our NCAAF Betting Hub for more college football previews, predictions, news and analysis.

Northwestern Wildcats

After a shaky offseason and training camp, Northwestern has finally started to stabilize under Braun. It's coming off back-to-back wins against Wisconsin and Purdue and looking to make it a third straight this weekend in Champaign.

Northwestern’s offense has struggled this season, as many of the Big Ten West teams do given the colder temperatures as the season progresses. The Wildcats average 20.7 points per game, but they rank just 111th in Offensive Success Rate. This team struggles to move the ball effectively with quarterback Ben Bryant, but he will need to play well to beat a tough Illinois team.

The Northwestern offense ranks 120th in explosiveness, so they will need to find ways to capitalize on their longer drives and convert red zone opportunities because scoring has not been easy for them this season.

The Wildcats have been better defensively, ranking 90th in Success Rate and allowing only 22 points per game.

The Wildcats play the classic Big Ten slugfest style. They want to play good defense to keep themselves in games.

The best facet of this Northwestern defense is their ability to limit big plays. This keeps their games tight until the very end. Northwestern ranks eighth in defensive explosiveness, so the Illini will have a hard time putting up points quickly if they find themselves down late in the game.

This will also help Northwestern keep this one close, assuming they prevent Illinois from jumping out to an early lead from big plays. I expect the Wildcats to play tough in this one and fight for every inch on the defensive side. 


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Illinois Fighting Illini

Bret Bielema is not having the exciting season he had a year ago with one of the top defenses in the country and one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten.

His Fighting Illini are currently in a fight for bowl eligibility at 5-6 on the year at this point. His team has looked pretty solid, going 3-2 in the last five weeks with the two losses being close ones at Iowa and at home against Wisconsin.

Illinois has recently switched to John Paddock at quarterback given Luke Altmyer’s injury, but even with Altmyer coming back from injury, it'll be rolling with Paddock at quarterback.

Paddock has played a limited role so far this year, but he seems to take care of the football better than Altmyer, which is something this Illinois offense needed to improve upon.

The Illini passing attack has been impressive this year at 39th in Success Rate, and the run game has been nearly as good at 46th in the country.

They lack big-play ability, but they should be able to find some steady success against Northwestern. They will need to make sure to finish drives if they want to cover in this one.

Defensively, Illinois has one of the best defensive linemen in the country in Johnny Newton. He has already announced he will likely forego any postseason, so I would expect him to play lights out in what will probably be his last game in the orange and blue.

The Illini defense isn't quite what it was a year ago, as it allows 28 points per game and ranks 94th in Success Rate.

They will need big performances from Newton and the defensive line to stifle Northwestern’s offense. This one has the makings of a low-scoring affair if the Illini can limit what's already a limited Northwestern offense.

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Northwestern vs Illinois

Matchup Analysis

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

Northwestern Offense vs. Illinois Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success10077
Line Yards128106
Pass Success10479
Havoc96117
Finishing Drives2989
Quality Drives12198
Illinois Offense vs. Northwestern Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success4584
Line Yards3069
Pass Success3942
Havoc113125
Finishing Drives6858
Quality Drives11846
Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling4442
PFF Coverage45115
Special Teams SP+7094
Middle 86754
Seconds per Play26.3 (54)25.1 (31)
Rush Rate55.1% (88)48.9% (107)

Northwestern vs Illinois

Betting Pick & Prediction

While Northwestern has been the better team of late, I think this one being a home game for the Illini, and the desperation they have fighting for bowl eligibility will play a major factor.

I think Illinois’ defense can do enough in what will be a cold environment to slow down Northwestern’s offense. The Illini offense will be the difference in this one, and I think it's just more talented than this Northwestern team.

Give me Illinois -5.5. 

Pick: Illinois -5.5

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