Illinois vs. Indiana WeeK 1 Odds & Predictions
Illinois Fighting Illini (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
When: Friday, September 2, 8 p.m.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
Point Spread: ILL +3/IND -3
Total: O/U 46.5
Can Indiana actually find some offense and live up to the hype it had last season? The Hoosiers were riding high going into last year after reaching back-to-back bowl games, but they never got their offense in gear, scoring 15 points or less in eight of nine Big Ten games on their way to an 0-9 mark in the league. Another campaign like last year could be the beginning of the end for Tom Allen, who has just two winning seasons in five years as the man in charge in Bloomington.
On the Illinois side of the ledger, the Illini are riding high after smashing Wyoming in Week 0. Illinois had a big edge in experience in that game, and the Illini pretty much did whatever they wanted over the course of that game. Things might be a bit tougher against Indiana, but the Illinois ground game proved so dominant in that contest that it might not even matter.
How the Public is Betting the Illinois/Indiana Game
The public wasn’t impressed by Illinois’ smackdown of Wyoming, as the spread has moved from Indiana -2.5 to Indiana -3. The totals have dipped from 48.5 to 46.5, and 52 percent of tickets are on the Hoosiers.
Quarterback Donovan Leary (undisclosed) is out.
Wide receiver D.J. Matthews Jr. (knee) is probable.
When Illinois Has the Ball
Chase Brown had a favorable matchup against Wyoming, and the running back more than delivered with 151 rushing yards and two scores against the Cowboys. Brown was dominant last year in averaging almost six yards per carry for the season, and against Wyoming, he was even better, going for almost eight yards per carry.
Indiana’s defense should be a little better than the Cowboys were, but probably not a lot. The Hoosiers were decent on defense last season, but they gave up 35 points per game last season because of one problem: the offense was so incompetent that they often faced short fields and wore down trying to keep the opposing offense from scoring. The Hoosiers completely wore down by the end of the season, as the last time we saw them, they gave up six yards per carry to Purdue.
Beyond Brown, Illinois has some solid weapons, namely quarterback Tommy DeVito. DeVito looked good with his decision-making against Wyoming, but so far, he’s spread his targets out a fair amount. That could work as a whole as he tries to get on the same page with his receivers, but eventually, he’ll need to find a receiver or two that he can trust with the game on the line.
When Indiana Has the Ball
When you get outscored 35-10 in league games, something has gone seriously wrong. Only against Maryland did Indiana find any offense, resulting in Michael Penix hitting the transfer portal and Connor Bazelak taking over. But if Indiana can’t do better than 3.2 yards per carry on the ground, who starts at quarterback won’t really matter.
Last season, it didn’t matter who the Hoosiers tried at running back; the attack didn’t go anywhere. Indiana lost its three best running backs from a year ago, but this was from a unit that only managed to barely crack three yards per carry. That was a large reason why the Hoosiers just couldn’t score in Big Ten games, and if it isn’t fixed, Indiana will struggle again.
The Hoosiers have some talent here at the skill positions, but none of it has any real experience in Big Ten play. It’s going to take some time for Indiana to get on the same page, not ideal when facing an Illinois team that has already played.
Nobody in the Big Ten likes Friday night games, and Illinois hates it more than most, as the Illini are 1-6 ATS in their past seven Friday evening contests. Still, the Illini do come in hot, having covered in four straight contests and looked pretty good in the process.
It’s been a long time since Indiana had anything to feel excited about at Memorial Stadium. The Hoosiers have lost five straight in Bloomington and failed to cover in all of them, coming within one score on only one of the five occasions. Indiana also hasn’t been much for offense; the Hoosiers only scored more than 15 points once in their past 10 games in the Big Ten.
The weather should cool nicely in central Indiana for this game, with temperatures expected to hit 64 degrees around kickoff and wind blowing at just five miles per hour to the east.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
I’m not sure what the public is seeing here in backing Indiana. The Illinois attack looked good last week and Indiana doesn’t have the advantage of actually playing in a game situation. The Hoosiers didn’t play anyone yet, while Illinois smacked around Wyoming to give them the start that they badly needed.
When you’ve already gotten a chance to hit someone else and try to execute your strategy against another opponent, you have a substantially better starting place than your opposition. I think that will help Illinois in this case and will take the improving Illini to cover. Bet your Week 1 college football predictions for FREE by taking advantage of a 100% real cash bonus up to $300 when you use bonus code PREDICT100 at MyBookie Sportsbook!