Today's Free Picks for
Posted Friday at 1:15 PM EST
8:00 PM EST. We haven’t seen Illinois take the field in two weeks but the last glimpse many had of the Illini was the USF Bulls torching them in Tampa for 47 points in a nationally televised Friday night game. That loss was ugly as can be while Nebraska won last week. These results conjure up preconceived notions. Overall, the Huskers were projected to have more of a ceiling in 2017 compared to Illinois, who took steps backward in 2016. Nebraska won nine games in 2016 while Illinois lost two more games in 2016 than it did in 2015. The Cornhuskers are expected to go bowling while Illinois is forecasted to stay home yet again. We now get to take advantage of some of things that influence the market. You see, Nebraska has benefitted from eating cupcakes more than actually being a good football team.
The Huskers began their season with a 43-36 win against Arkansas State in Lincoln. The Red Wolves were able to generate 415 passing yards and outperform Nebraska in total offense. However, Arkansas State would commit two costly mistakes and that would be the ultimate decider of the affair. Nebraska was very lucky to escape victorious. The Huskers would follow that win up with two consecutive losses against Oregon and Northern Illinois. Against Oregon, Nebraska would be torched for 566 yards of offense in a game that was far less competitive than the score-line depicts be that they trailed by as much as 28 before the Quack Attack let off the gas. On paper, a 42-35 loss to Oregon in Eugene does not look bad at all. We’re here to tell you that Nebraska was horrible.
Against Northern Illinois, the ‘Huskers defense would finally show up but the offense would turn the ball over three times and the Huskies would seize the opportunity to pull the upset. Nebraska seemed to finally get its act together against Rutgers at home last week, but again the score was also not indicative of how the game was played. Nebraska did not nose away until the final stages of the fourth quarter on a field goal in the last five minutes that gave Nebraska the 10-point margin it would win by. For most of the game, the Scarlet Knights hung with the Cornhuskers every step of the way and even led at one point. It is worth noting that Rutgers went winless against the Big Ten in 2016 and they have yet to win a game against an FBS opponent in 2017.
By contrast, Illinois comes in “free-rolling”. With such low expectations, the Illini will treat every contest with a “nothing to lose” mentality. Teams of this pedigree can be exceptionally dangerous and the Illini already took advantage of this when they hosted a Western Kentucky team that was spotting them a touchdown in Champaign three weeks ago. Illinois would win the game 20-7, as Western Kentucky was caught scratching the target on its back from being a two-time defending conference champion. Illinois also has a victory over Ball State to open its season.
In summarizing, the Cornhuskers are 2-2 with narrow victories at home over both over Arkansas State (43-36) and Rutgers (27-17). They could just as easily be 0-4. Nebraska’s success, if you want to call it that, has been fueled by a weak schedule, some timely breaks and unsustainable luck field position. Against weak competition, Nebraska was neither dominant nor reliable. Hop off this Nebraska train immediately, as this team is about to sink quickly and it likely starts with a loss to the Illini. Thus, we’re playing Illinois to win outright and Illinois to cover the number.
Illinois +197 (Risking 1 unit)
Illinois +6 -108 (Risking 1.06 units to win 1)
TOTAL RISK = 2.08 units
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ILLINOIS +197 (Risking 2.08 units - To Win: 4.10)