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The Illinois Fighting Illini will aim for their third conference win of the season when they host the Iowa Hawkeyes in a Big Ten clash Saturday afternoon from Memorial Stadium. The Hawkeyes came up short in a 14-10 home loss to Northwestern last week, and the Fighting Illini are coming off an ugly 54-35 road loss to Nebraska. Iowa registered a 45-16 home win over Illinois last season.
Iowa’s Offense Stumbles in Third Straight Loss
The Iowa Hawkeyes head into this road matchup looking to snap a three-game slide. They generated very little offense in a 14-10 home loss to Northwestern last week to fall to 3-4 in conference play. Nate Stanley played reasonably well in the loss, notching 269 passing yards with one TD. The junior QB has tallied at least 250 passing yards six times this season, and he has accrued a total of 2308 passing yards with an 18:8 TD to INT ratio.
The Hawkeyes feature three RB’s with at least 300 rushing yards. Toren Young leads the way with 480 rushing yards on an average of 4.8 yards per carry. T.J. Hockenson tallied a season-high seven catches for 89 yards against Northwestern, and the sophomore tight end leads the Hawkeyes with 615 receiving yards on the season.
The Iowa offense has been inconsistent down the final stretch of the season, scoring less than 25 points in three out of their last four games. The Hawkeyes defense rebounded from two subpar performances by limiting Northwestern to just over 300 total yards last week. Iowa is very effective against the pass, and their rush defense ranks sixth in the country. The Hawkeyes own a 2-2 road record, and they are currently averaging 28.4 points per game, ranking them 72nd in the nation. They are allowing an average of 18.1 points, good for 13th in the country.
Illinois’ Defensive Struggles Continue in Loss to Nebraska
The Illinois Fighting Illini will need to win their last two games of the season to secure bowl eligibility. Their defensive issues resumed in a rough 54-35 road loss to Nebraska last week. AJ Bush Jr. struggled to generate offense in the air in the loss, completing 44% of his passes for 126 yards, although he rushed for 187 yards. The senior QB has tossed six interceptions in his last four games, and he has recorded 1050 passing yards with a 5:7 TD to INT ratio to go with 659 rushing yards on the year. Illinois’ leading rusher Reggie Corbin Jr. (1011 rushing yards) left Saturday’s game with an injury and did not return, and he is questionable for this one.
Illinois does not attempt many passes, and as a result their leading receiver Ricky Smalling only has 307 receiving yards on the year. Illinois has displayed improvement on offense in their last three games, and their rushing offense ranks eighth in the country.
The bounces have been crazy in this one.
— Illinois on BTN (@IllinoisOnBTN) November 10, 2018
The Fighting Illini’ defense continues to flounder. They have surrendered over 40 points in three out of their last four games. They are squandering an average of 248 rushing yards, pegging them down at 123rd in the country. Illinois stands at 3-3 on their home field, and they are currently averaging 29.6 points, pegging them 66th overall. They are conceding an average of 38.6 points, placing them down at 120th in the FBS.
The Illinois Fighting Illini are:
- the home team is 8-3 ATS in the last 11 meetings between Illinois and Iowa.
- 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS loss.
- under is 10-4 in their last 14 home games.
- under is 7-2 in their last 9 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 November games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I am taking the points with Illinois in this contest. Iowa only managed 10 points on 333 total yards on their home field against Northwestern last week, and they have now dropped three consecutive games. Illinois features a potent running game that is averaging a sizzling 263 rushing yards per game, good for eighth in the FBS, so I am confident they can solve the Hawkeyes rush defense, especially considering the fact Iowa just surrendered 184 rushing yards against Northwestern last week.
Furthermore, the Hawkeyes aren’t clicking on offense right now, averaging only 23.3 points in their last four games, and QB Nate Stanley has only tossed two TD passes in his last three games. Illinois should be able to keep this one close on their home field.
Prediction: Illinois Fighting Illini
Full-Game Total Pick
The under is a solid option in this one. While I expect Illinois to do some damage on offense, Iowa is one of the better defensive teams in the Big Ten, and they are limiting opponents to an average of only 286 total yards per game, plus the under is 7-1 in Illinois’ last eight home games against a team with a winning road record.
In addition, as mentioned Nate Stanley has only recorded two touchdown passes in his last three games, and the Hawkeyes rushing offense is only averaging 105.6 rushing yards in their last three games. The under is 4-0-1 in the last five meetings between these two teams, and I expect another low-scoring clash.
Full-Game Prop Bet
I am taking Illinois on the alternative line at +10. Illinois needs to win their final two games to secure bowl eligibility, and while they will have a tough time winning, they should play with some desperation and keep this one very close. Their offense has scored at least 33 points in three straight games, while Iowa hasn’t been scoring many points as they have scored 24 or fewer points in three out of their last four games.
Prediction: Alternative Point Spread: Illinois +10
Half-Time Side Pick
I am staying with Illinois on the halftime line. The Fighting Illini have fared exceptionally well in the first half as of late , averaging 18 points in the first half over their last three games. In addition, the Hawkeyes are only averaging 12.4 points in the first half this season.
Half-Time Total Bet
The Hawkeyes first half defense hasn’t been nearly as sharp on the road where they are squandering an average of 16.2 points on the season. While I am not too concerned with the struggling Iowa offense, the Fighting Illini are allowing an average of 22.1 points in the first half this season.
Half-Time Prop Prediction
I expect very little offense in the first quarter. Illinois is having no problem scoring in the opening quarter where they are averaging a solid 10.3 points in their last three games. Also, Iowa is only averaging 5.6 points in the first quarter this season.
Prediction: First Quarter Line: Illinois