Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#327 Illinois vs.
#328 Purdue
Saturday, September 25, 2021 at 3:30pm EDT
Written by Chris Kubala

It’s a battle of teams from the West Division of the Big Ten on the gridiron from the Hoosier State. The Illinois Fighting Illini are on the road as they travel to face the Purdue Boilermakers Saturday afternoon. Illinois was edged 20-17 at home by Maryland last Saturday in their most recent contest. Purdue was dropped 27-13 on the road by #12 Notre Dame in their previous contest last Saturday. In the all-time series between the teams, the Fighting Illini owns a 45-44-6 advantage though the Boilermakers have won four of the last five matchups. That includes a 31-24 victory on the road in the most recent matchup on October 31, 2020.

Illinois Fighting Illini Trying to Regroup

Illinois suffered their third straight loss as they were knocked off at home by Maryland in their last game. The Fighting Illini hope to regroup and bounce back as they enter 1-3 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten on the year. Against Maryland, Illinois was even at three at the half and at 10 after three quarters. The Fighting Illini took a 17-10 lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter but didn’t score again. Illinois gave up 10 points in the final 2:13, including a game-winning 32-yard field goal as time expired to take the loss. The Fighting Illini was outgained 481-368, gave up 24 first downs while picking up 19 to negate forcing two turnovers compared to committing only one. Illinois also owned a 30:51 to 29:09 edge in time of possession in the contest.

The Fighting Illini enters this game 90th in the nation in passing offense with 207.8 yards per game while they are 71st in rushing offense by grinding out 153 yards per contest. Illinois is 103rd in the FBS in scoring offense with 22.8 points per contest while they are an equally dismal 104th in scoring defense by allowing 30.2 points per game. Artur Sitkowski is 58 of 102 passing for 611 yards with six touchdowns against one interception while adding 39 yards on the ground. Brandon Peters is 13 of 30 for 220 yards and an interception in his action on the year. Reggie Love III leads the ground game with 34 carries for 146 yards this season. Chase Brown (26 carries, 122 yards, TD), Joshua McCray (20 carries, 109 yards, TD), Mike Epstein (25 carries, 107 yards, TD) and Jakari Norwood (15 carries, 81 yards) have all seen work already this season as Bret Bielema continues to rotate his backs. In the passing game, Isaiah Williams leads the team with 21 receptions for 230 yards and two scores. Donny Navarro (nine catches, 83 yards), tight end Daniel Barker (eight grabs, 90 yards, two TD) and Casey Washington (seven catches, 54 yards) are secondary targets. James McCourt has hit all 11 extra-point attempts and four of six field goals with a long of 53 this season.

Purdue Boilermakers Seek to Earn Home Victory

Purdue won their first two games to start the year but ended up falling short late on the road against #12 Notre Dame in their previous contest. The Boilermakers try to regroup and earn the win in their conference opener here. Against Notre Dame, Purdue led 3-0 after the opening quarter, trailed 10-3 at the half and was within 17-13 after three quarters. The Boilermakers were unable to generate any points in the fourth quarter, allowing Notre Dame to put the game away with 10 fourth-quarter points to take the loss. Purdue held a narrow 348-343 edge in total offense, picked up 19 first downs while allowing 16 and controlled the clock by a 34:11 to 25:49 margin. They were hurt by a pair of turnovers as they failed to record a takeaway.

The Boilermakers are 14th in the nation in passing offense with 326.3 yards per game while they are 113th in rushing offense with 110.7 yards per contest. Purdue stands 63rd in the FBS in scoring offense with an average of 30.7 points per game while ranking 27th in scoring defense by allowing 16 points per contest. Jack Plummer is 70 of 97 for 745 yards with seven touchdowns against no interceptions on the year. Aidan O’Connell is 20 of 29 for 190 yards with two touchdowns against two interceptions while Austin Burton is five of five for 44 yards. It’s been a three-headed committee on the ground with King Doerue (27 carries, 126 yards, TD), Dylan Downing (23 carries, 92 yards) and Zander Horvath (23 carries, 89 yards, TD) sharing the load. David Bell (team-high 21 catches, 319 yards, three TD), tight end Payne Durham (17 grabs, 203 yards, TD) and Jackson Anthrop (16 receptions, 151 yards) are terrific options when Purdue goes to the air. Bell sustained a concussion against Notre Dame and is in the concussion protocol: his status for this one is up in the air. Mitchell Finneran has hit all 11 extra-point attempts and five of five field-goal tries with a long of 48 this season.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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While Bell’s status is murky here, the fact remains that Purdue has plenty of weapons to do damage with in the passing game. The Boilermakers are a dangerous team through the air and they have been extremely stout on the defensive side of the ball in the early going this season. Illinois has struggled to get much going offensively since their opener against Nebraska. The Fighting Illini has struggled defensively and has been shredded through the air, giving up 321.3 yards per game with opposing quarterbacks completing 65.3% of their throws. You have to think that Plummer can take advantage of that weak Illinois defense to get the victory.

Prediction: Purdue Boilermakers -11

Full-Game Total Pick

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Illinois opened the season with a push on the 52-point total in their win over Nebraska and went over the mark with a 67-point total in their loss to UTSA. Since then, we’ve seen the Fighting Illini record a pair of unders, with 56 points against a 57.5-point total against Virginia and 37 points against a 61.5-point total against Maryland. On the flip side, Purdue has seen totals of 51, 49 and 40 points against numbers of 67, 57 and 58 points, giving them three unders on the board. That extends their run of unders to four dating back to last season. The under is 6-1 in Illinois’ last seven after a straight-up loss and 4-1 in their last five after an ATS loss. Purdue has seen the under go 4-0 in their last four overall. In addition, the under is 4-0 in the last four meetings and 6-1 in the last seven meetings at Purdue. Look for this one to follow suit as the Illini struggled to put points on the board, keeping this one short of the mark.

Prediction: Under 53
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Written By Chris Kubala , "Chris Kubala"

Chris Kubala has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO.  If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well. as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career.  Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.