Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Odds and Pick to Cover the Point Spread

No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0 SU, 4-0 ATS) vs. Illinois Fighting
Illini (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS), Week 5 NCAA Football, 12:00 p.m. EST,
Saturday, October 2, 2010, Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Ill., TV: Big
Ten Network

by Badger of Predictem.com

Betting Odds: OSU -17.5/ILL +17.5
Over/Under Total: 50.5

Make Ohio State a +2.5 underdog by placing them into a 20 point college football teaser at 5Dimes.

With four high-scoring victories already on the board the 2nd-ranked
Ohio State Buckeyes will finally play their first game away from
Columbus this season, traveling to Champaign to face the Illinois
Fighting Illini
in an opening week Big Ten Conference game at
Memorial Stadium.

Ohio State has performed every bit as good as their No. 2 ranking, running up big numbers in the weeks following the early September
victory over Miami that was capped off by last weekends 73-20
laugher over Eastern Michigan. With Terrelle Pryor starting to play
like the duel-threat quarterback he was in high school and the
Buckeyes stable of runners and receivers surrounding him, the
Buckeyes offense will try to keep the throttle down as they start
their journey toward a Big Ten title in Champaign.

Illinois is coming off a bye week and had two weeks to prepare for
the Buckeyes to come to town, which is hopefully a good thing because
the Illini didnt exactly blow the doors off of Northern Illinois
their last time out (September 18th) in their 28-22 victory. After
only scoring 13 points in their season-opening loss to Missouri, the
Illini and quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase are starting to show their
potential with 35- and 28-point games just as the Big Ten season begins.

But not everyone is convinced of Illinois potential, since the
oddsmakers in Las Vegas originally opened this game with the Buckeyes
as high as 18.5-point favorites. The point spread has since come down
to Ohio State minus 17 or 17.5 at a majority of the offshore
sportsbooks, so the early steam at the window must have been coming
in on the Illini as huge home underdogs in the Big Ten opener.

The over/under total is still off the board at a majority of books,
but the couple of offshore books that have listed a total for this
game have opened it at 50.5 or up the hook to 51 already.

With an average of over 500 yards of total offense every week (506.8
ypg 8th), I wouldnt expect too many changes in the Buckeyes
approach on Saturday. Pryor continues to be the main threat both on
the ground (6.3 yards per carry) and in the air (8.8 yards per pass)
as the junior eats up major chunks of yardage every time he touches
the ball.

When Pryor isnt running one of his running backs is doing the
damage, as Daniel Harron (4.6 ypc), Brandon Saine (4.7 ypc) and Jamal
Berry (11.8 ypc) are all capable of busting a big one at anytime.
With Dane Sanzenbacher emerging as a great complement to DeVier Posey
on the outside at receiver theres really are no holes in the
Buckeyes attack, an attack that is averaging 49.2 points a game (3rd
in NCAA).

On the other sideline, Scheelhaase and running back Mikel LeShoure are starting to become a solid one-two punch for the Illini on the
ground. Scheelhaase had 115 yards rushing and a TD against Northern
Illinois, while LeShoure tallied 180 and a score in the game.
Together they are helping Illinois rush for 229 yards per game, the
18th best mark in the country after three games.


But what will hurt the Illini in this game, and for the rest of the
season too, is the fact that they just dont throw the ball good
enough to keep defenses from stacking the box. Scheelhaase is hitting
just 54 percent of his throws and has as many touchdowns as
interceptions (3 each), and overall the team is averaging just 130
yards per game (112th), which just wont cut it now that the Illini
are starting the Big Ten portion of their schedule.

Considering that the Buckeyes defensive front seven boasts the 5th-
best mark in the NCAA against the run, allowing just 70 yards per
game, the Illini will have to find some way to move the ball in the
air on Saturday or the game will turn into the lopsided affair the
oddsmakers are predicting.

Last year Ohio State shutout the Illini at home in the Horseshoe, winning 30-0 as 14-point favorites. The victory was their second in a
row in the head-to-head series and fifth win in the last six meetings
with the only loss being the 28-21 stunner the Illini hung on the
Buckeyes at home in 2007.

Illinois has done a solid job for bettors though, going 6-3 ATS in the last nine meetings, including three of the last four in Campaign.
However, the Buckeyes do have some experience covering a large point
spread in this series, covering as 35.5-point favorites in 2005 (won
40-2) and 36.5-point favorites in 1998 (won 41-0).

The under wager has a few strong betting trends in this matchup too,
going 6-0-1 in the Buckeyes last seven road games and 5-2-1 in Ohio
States last eight Big Ten games. The under is also 5-1 in Illinois
last six Big Ten games, and is 18-7 in their last 25 games as huge
underdogs (10.5 or greater).

Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I have a hard time believing Illinois can keep this
one close, but it is the Big Ten and stranger things have happened.
So Im going to hedge my bet a little and take the under here,
figuring the Buckeyes call off the dogs once theyre up by more than
three or four scores. Im taking the under of 51.