Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#119 Michigan -20 vs.
#120 Illinois 51.5
Saturday, October 12, 2019 at 12:00pm EDT
Memorial Stadium, Champaign
Written by Adam Rauzino

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#119 University of Michigan
#120 University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
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The Illinois Fighting Illini will host the #16 Michigan Wolverines in Big Ten action Saturday afternoon Memorial Stadium in Champaign, IL.

The Michigan Wolverines head on the road for the second time this season. They were crushed by a 35-14 score against the Badgers in their lone road game. The Wolverines have since rebounded with two straight conference wins since which included a 10-3 home win against a ranked Iowa team last week to improve to 2-1 in Big Ten play. Michigan climbed three spots in the AP Top 25 rankings to #16 this week.

The Illinois Fighting Illini are searching for their first conference win of the season. The Fighting Illini have lost to Nebraska and Minnesota in their two Big Ten battles. They enter this one riding a three-game losing streak due primarily to poor defensive play. Illinois started the season with two wins against Akron and Connecticut. This marks the first meeting between these two schools since 2016 in a game Michigan took by a dominating 41-8 score.

#16 Wolverines Register Gritty Win Against Ranked Hawkeyes

The Michigan Wolverines silenced some of their critics with a much needed 10-3 home win against #14 Iowa last week. Michigan has notched a few uninspiring wins which included anarrow overtime win against Army compounded by a blowout road loss to Wisconsin which has resulted in some criticism under head coach Jim Harbaugh. QB Shea Patterson isn’t flashy although he has thrown for at least 200 yards in four of five games. The senior QB has racked up 1052 passing yards with a 6:3 TD to INT ratio.

“We’ve been through a lot through the first 5 games of the season,” said Patterson. “With OT, with on the road, played in some tight games. I think we’re battle-tested at this point, and we’re just gonna go out there and play and try and control what we can control.”

The Wolverines will need increased production on the ground if they want to compete for the top spot in the Big Ten East. Their leader rusher Zach Charbonnet has only amassed 260 rushing yards which included only 32 rushing yards on 13 attempts against Iowa last week.

Michigan features three receivers with at least 200 yards on the season. They are led by Nico Collins who has collected 269 receiving yards. The junior WR has tallied 188 receiving yards in his last three games alone. The Wolverines offense has looked very sloppy at times, and this particular matchup is a good opportunity to get back on track.

The Michigan defense is their greatest asset. They lean on their defense to win games which was evident in last week’s 10-3 win over Iowa. The Wolverines will give up yards on the ground, but their pass defense is seventh in the FBS. The Wolverines are not a high scoring team, and they are currently averaging 28 points, placing them 74th overall. The Michigan defense is holding opponents to 16 points, good for 17th in the FBS.

Illinois Pegged with Third Straight Defeat

The Illinois Fighting Illini are in need of a win. They opened the season with two wins and have since lost three consecutive games. Their defensive woes resumed in a rough 40-17 road loss to Minnesota last week to fall to 0-2 in conference action. Illinois’ #1 QB Brandon Peters was injured in the defeat and did not return. Peters played for Michigan in 2017 and 2018, and he is questionable for this one. The junior QB has recorded 797 passing yards with a 10:4 TD to INT ratio. If he is unable to play Matt Robinson will get the start. The freshman QB went 15 for 29 with for 125 passing yards against Minnesota last week.

“He knew that Michigan was on the schedule when he decided to come here,” Illinois head coach Lovie Smith said about Peters. “It’s Michigan week now, so I know he’s pumped up. I’m hoping he’ll be ready to go this week.”

Even if Peters can't play, at least he can help the Illini in film study, considering he has pretty good knowledge about their offense and defense.

“I think you use every advantage that you can possibly get,” Smith said. “But you’re not going to know what a team is going to do [on offense] until the ball is snapped.”

Illinois’ best chance to generate offense will likely be on the ground as the Wolverines are tremendous against the pass. Reggie Corbin should see plenty of carries. The senior RB has rushed for at least 130 yards in two out of his last three games, and he has accrued 382 rushing yards on an average of 6.6 yards per rush attempt on the year.The Fighting Illini have two receivers with over 200 receiving yards led by Josh Imatorbhebhe with 220 yards and four touchdowns. The Illinois offense hasn’t been their big issue this season.

The Fighting Illini defense continues to falter which has played a big role in their current three-game slide. They are especially struggling against the run, ranking down at 98th in the FBS in rush defense. Illinois is scoring an average of 31.8 points, placing them 57th in the country. They are allowing an average of 28.4 points, positioning them 80th overall.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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I am taking the points with Illinois in this Big Ten tilt. Michigan will win this game but I expect the Fighting Illini to keep it close. The Wolverines offense has not looked threatening, scoring 24 or fewer points in three out of their last four games, and I don’t seem the covering this large number on the road. They stand 73rd in passing yards and 102nd in rushing yards per game. Illinois’ defensive stats don’t stand out but they have collected 15 sacks and Patterson has been sacked 11 times this season.

Furthermore,  Illinois should be able to generate some offense on the ground. They feature a talented RB in Reggie Corbin who is averaging a stellar 6.6 yards per attempt. Michigan’s rush defense hasn’t been nearly as dominant as their pass defense, standing 51st in the FBS in rushing yards against.

Prediction: Illinois Fighting Illini

Full-Game Total Pick

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The under is a strong play in this matchup. The combination of Michigan’s defense and subpar offense should result in a low scoring game. Michigan QB Shea Patterson has only completed 58% of his passes, and the Wolverines have not benefited from production on the ground with their duo of Zach Charbonnet and Christian Turner combined for only 410 rushing yards. The under is 4-0 in the Wolverines’ last four road games against Illinois.

In addition, the Fighting Illini were limited to only 17 points at Minnesota last week and they lack big playmakers. The Wolverines defense is elite, holding opponents to only 289 total yards per game, plus the under is 4-1 in the last five meetings overall between these Big Ten foes.

Prediction: Under

Full-Game Prop Bet

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I am selecting the under on the Michigan team total which can be found on PointsBet. The Wolverines are turning the ball over frequently which has impacted their offensive production. They have lost seven fumbles and they own a -1 turnover margin which includes seven lost fumbles and four interceptions. Shea Patterson owns a weak 1:2 TD to INT ratio in his last two games, and Illinois should limit his production.

Prediction: Michigan Team Total Under

Half-Time Total Bet

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I am sticking with the under on the first half total. Michigan is especially tough to solve in the opening half. They have only conceded an average of 10.3 points in the first half in their last three games. Illinois only managed 10 points in the first half last week and Michigan has a better defense than Minnesota. Also, Michigan stands down at 67th in the FBS with an average of 13.6 points in the opening half.

Prediction: Under
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Written By Adam Rauzino

Adam has been a sports fanatic his entire life, closely following hockey, baseball, basketball and football. Adam enjoys analyzing various stats, as well as studying Sabermetrics and analytics to take his picks to a whole new level. Adam has a passion for writing about various sports as well as personal finance and has brought his talents to us here at Winners and Whiners. He graduated with a diploma in business marketing and business finance.