Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#329 Rutgers 49 vs.
#330 Illinois -20
Saturday, November 2, 2019 at 3:30pm EDT
Memorial Stadium, Champaign
Written by Chris Altruda

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#329 Rutgers University
#330 University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
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Rutgers at Illinois

When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 2, Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Ill., 3:30 p.m. EDT.

Illinois' bid for its first bowl game in five years hits a crucial juncture Saturday when it hosts Big Ten rival Rutgers.

Scarlet Knights seek back-to-back wins for the first time since 2017

Rutgers (2-6, 0-5 Big Ten East) is looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since defeating Illinois and Purdue on Oct. 14 and 21, 2017, following a 44-34 victory over Liberty last Saturday.

Quarterback Johnny Langan accounted for 310 total yards and three touchdowns while Isaih Pacheco added 107 rushing yards and two scores as the Scarlet Knights rolled up 463 yards -- their second-highest total of the season and nearly matching the amount of their previous three games combined (578).

A redshirt freshman, Langan threw for a season-best 192 yards and recorded his first two collegiate touchdown passes in addition to his first 100-yard rushing game, which was also the first by a Rutgers quarterback since Sam Mudie in 1961.

The challenge for interim coach is to carry last week's offensive effort into this contest. Rutgers has the fifth-worst scoring offense in the country at 15.3 points per game and is 126th of 130 teams in total offense at 281.5 yards per game.

Pacheco, who became the feature back after Raheem Blackshear opted to redshirt four games into the season, has team bests of 541 yards and six TDs.

Ilini look to take step closer to bowl elgibility

Winning streaks also have been few and far in between for Illinois (4-4, 2-3 West), which has not won three straight games since opening the 2011 season 6-0. The Illini had no letdown after their stunning upset of previously unbeaten Wisconsin, stifling Purdue 24-6 on the road last Saturday in soaking conditions.

Dre Brown rushed for 131 yards, and the Illini defense contributed a pick-six from Tony Adams as Illinois came 5:49 shy of a shutout. Lovie Smith's team limited the Boilermakers to 271 yards and 5 of 18 on third downs, and Adams' interception was his second in as many games.

Illinois leads the nation in fumble recoveries with 13 and is tied for second with 19 takeaways.

“We know what kind of team we are," safety Sydney Brown told the Kokomo Perspective. "We know what kind of team we can be. Hearing it from Lovie, it’s just comforting.

"Where we’re really picking it up is just our intrinsic motivation within the team and us finding the motivation within ourselves to put it out on the field. These past couple games has really helped us develop."

Rutgers can expect to see a heavy dose of Brown and Illini leading running back Reggie Corbin, who was held to 47 yards by Purdue but still leads the team with 526. Brandon Peters threw just six times versus the Boilermakers -- partially due to the weather -- but Illinois is 116th in the country with 168.1 yards per game.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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Even with Rutgers getting itself right for one weekend... at home... against Liberty... in a game in which it was an underdog, there is no compelling reason to think the Scarlet Knights will continue such form for a second straight week. Though not world-beaters by any stretch of the imagination, Illinois has plenty of momentum and should be able to use Corbin and Brown as battering rams on the Rutgers defense for a third straight win and move within one victory shy of bowl eligibility.

The line being a full point below the flat touchdown total also raises confidence in the Illini.

Prediction: Illinois -20

Full-Game Total Pick

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Rutgers' inefficiency on offense looms large in taking the under. The Scarlet Knights have scored 92 of their 122 points on the season in their two victories and shut out three times. They have been outscored 207-14 in Big Ten play, giving up at least 30 points in each game.

Illinois should get to that mark, but it is also difficult to see the Illini getting above 40, especially if they are going to be as run-heavy as this game should dictate. The under, per Covers.com, is 8-3 in Rutgers' last 11 conference games and 5-2 in the Illini's last seven versus sub-.500 teams. It may be uncomfortably close, but the under should deliver here.

This line has dipped 2.5 points to 48 in the run-up before kickoff, so hopefully you got in early.

Prediction: UNDER 50.5 points

Full-Game Prop Bet

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A reminder that Rutgers has scored exactly two touchdowns in five conference games. That alone offers little confidence in the Scarlet Knights matching that total against the Illini, who are coming off a solid defensive performance at Purdue and have momentum on their side.

Prediction: Rutgers UNDER 13.5 points (Even)

Half-Time Side Pick

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To put Rutgers' offensive misery in further perspective, it has been outscored 65-0 in the first half of its three Big Ten road games, and scored one first-half touchdown in the five games overall. Illinois has led at halftime just once in its three conference home games, but the Scarlet Knights are a steep drop-off from the likes of Michigan and Wisconsin.

Prediction: Illinois -10.5 (-110)

Half-Time Total Bet

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Again, the key is going against Rutgers' offense here. Illinois may be picking up steam offensively, but four combined scores feels like a bridge too far for both teams, especially with a run-centric Illini offense and expected windy conditions in Champaign.

Prediction: UNDER 24 points (-105)
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Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is based in Chicago. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiner, he worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Follow Chris daily right here at W&W and on Twitter at @AlTruda73. You won’t be disappointed.