Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#189 Illinois vs.
#190 Northwestern
Saturday, November 26, 2022 at 3:30pm EST
Written by Adam Rauzino

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The Illinois Fighting Illini (7-4, 7-4 ATS, 3-7 O/U) battle the Northwestern Wildcats (1-10, 5-6 ATS, 4-7 O/U) in the Big Ten regular-season finale on Saturday afternoon. The Fighting Illini's losing streak was extended in a road loss to Michigan. The Wildcats were dealt another loss, this time against Purdue. Illinois recorded a dominating 47-14 home win against Northwestern last season.

Illinois Nearly Stuns Michigan, Hit with 3rd Straight Loss

The Illinois Fighting Illini enter the regular season finale on a three-game losing streak. They were near the top of the Big Ten standings early, standing at 4-1 in conference play at one point but are now 4-4 after last week’s defeat. Illinois almost recorded the stunning upset in last week’s defeat. They were 17-point dogs in a narrow 19-17 road loss against the undefeated #3 Michigan Wolverines. Their best win occurred in October in a victory against Minnesota. The Fighting Illini have covered in three of four conference road games. 

Tommy DeVito is having a stellar year. The senior QB has attempted about 30 passes per game in his last few performances and is usually accurate, connecting on 70% of his pass attempts this season. DeVito has accrued 2261 passing yards and a 15:3 TD-to-INT ratio on the year.

Illinois has the rushing leader in the Big Ten, Chase Brown. The junior RB has rushed for at least 100 yards in all but one game including 140 yards last week. Brown now has a remarkable 1582 rushing yards on the season. Isaiah Williams has made eight receptions in his last two games. The sophomore WR has 579 receiving yards on the season. The Illinois offense has been kept in check, scoring 24 or fewer points in three consecutive games. 

The Fighting Illini defense is elite. They rank in the top 10 in many categories. Last week, they contained the Michigan offense, allowing 376 total yards on 19 points. This unit has only conceded more than 19 points three times this season. The pass defense is seventh while the rush defense is eighth. Illinois is averaging 24 points on the season, ranking them 93rd. They are limiting foes to an average of 13.1 points, good for third in the country.

Northwestern Concludes Disastrous Season

The Northwestern Wildcats will be glad to conclude the season on Saturday. They won the season opener against Nebraska and have incredibly not won a game since. They were close in a 31-24 loss to Maryland last month and covered in a loss to Ohio State but there has not been much to cheer about at Northwestern this season. The Wildcats were 17-point dogs in a 17-9 road loss against Purdue last week. They have covered the points in five of eight conference games. 

Northwestern is dealing with injuries at QB. Their #1 QB Ryan Hilinski did not play last week due to a leg injury. The junior QB has struggled this season, recording 1644 passing yards and a 6:7 TD to INT-ratio. Brendan Sullivan also did not see the field last week due to an undisclosed reason. The sophomore QB has been solid, posting 589 passing yards with four touchdowns against three interceptions. Hilinski and Sullivan are questionable. Last week it was sophomore  Cole Freeman and Carl Richardson under center.

Evan Hull has surpassed 100 rushing yards in two out of his last three games. The junior RB will likely see plenty of carries if the QBs are still out. Hull has collected 860 rushing yards on 4.3 yards per carry. Malik Washington had a season-best 97 receiving yards in the recent loss to Minnesota. The senior WR leads the squad with 638 yards. The Northwestern offense has been abysmal, scoring 13 or fewer points in four straight games. 

The Wildcats' defense has been decent at times. They limited Purdue to only 299 total yards last week and also found a way to hold the potent Ohio State offense to 21 points earlier this month. The pass defense is great, ranking 17th while the rush defense is 116th. Northwestern is scoring an average of 14.7 points, pegging them 128th. They are conceding an average of 27.2 points, placing them 75th in the FBS.

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The Illinois Fighting Illini are much better than the recent results suggest. They have earned wins against Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota and last week nearly stunned #3 Michigan, losing by three points at the Big House. Northwestern has been a disaster. They have not won since the season opener against Nebraska and have even lost bouts against Southern Illinois and Miami Ohio. 

Furthermore, the Fighting Illini defense will completely silence an abysmal offense. Northwestern has scored nine or fewer points in three straight games and their top two QBs are questionable. Illinois stands 7th against the pass and 8th against the run. Also, Illinois has one of the best running backs in the FBS in Chase Brown. He has led Illinois to an average of 180 rushing yards per game and the Wildcats' rush defense is horrible, ranking 116th in the country.

Prediction: Illinois Fighting Illini -14.5

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I expect points to be at a premium. The under has been the dominant trend for Northwestern because of the inept offense. They have only averaged a measly 11 points in their last five games and rank near last in all categories. The Fighting Illini's stifling defense limited Wisconsin to 10 points and Iowa to just six. 

In addition, the Wildcats' defense has been decent. They have allowed an average of only 23 points in their last three games including only 21 conceded against Ohio State. Illinois will be running frequently and have longer possessions as a result. Northwestern also has an excellent pass defense that ranks 17th in the FBS. The under is a convincing 7-3 in the Wildcats’ last ten games. 

Prediction: Under 38
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Written By Adam Rauzino , "Adam Rauzino"

Adam has been a sports fanatic his entire life, closely following hockey, baseball, basketball, and football. He 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 being an expert sports bettor. Prior to bringing his talents here to Winners and Whiners, Adam graduated with a diploma in business marketing and business finance. You would do yourself a huge favor by following Adam on a daily basis.