Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Northwestern Wildcats Betting Picks

December 11, 2020

Date:Saturday, December 12th
Time:12:00 PM ET
Network:ESPN2
Venue:Ryan Field
Spread:Northwestern -14
O/U:40.5

The 2-4 Illinois Fighting Illini will go on the road Saturday to face off with the 5-1 Northwestern Wildcats at 12:00 PM ET in Ryan Field. The Wildcats come in as 14-point home favorites and we’re expecting a defensive affair with a low 40.5 over/under. You can tune into the matchup on ESPN2. Let’s dive into who will win this game and how it will go down. Make sure to check out the rest of my NCAAF Picks and Predictions for this upcoming weekend.

Trends

  • Fighting Illini are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a road underdog.
  • Wildcats are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a ATS loss.
  • Under is 7-2 in Fighting Illini last 9 games following a bye week.
  • Under is 5-1 in Wildcats last 6 games overall.

When The Illinois Fighting Illini Have The Ball

It’s been an up and down season for Illinois, though it’s been ugly for the most part. They’re coming off a 35-21 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes in a game that wasn’t very close throughout. They won their previous two games, however, and will look to get back to their winning ways here in their toughest game of the season. QB Brandon Peters isn’t necessarily bad, but he’s not going to have much success against this defense.

The Fighting Illini want to run the ball as much as the possibly can. Chase Brown and Mike Epstein man a two-headed attack that offer very different skill sets. Brown is the guy who has a better chance to make an impact in this game as he can stretch the edge. Epstein has more mass and is more useful by the goalline. On the outside, Josh Imatorbhebhe and Daniel Barker are the only two guys over double-figure targets.

When The Northwestern Wildcats Have The Ball

The Wildcats beat you with their defense, so let’s start there. The Fighting Illini are going to have to work for every first down and scores won’t come easy. Northwestern was perfect until they were upset 30-29 a week ago by the Michigan State Spartans. They’ll be looking to bounce back against an Illinois team that is very susceptible defensively. It starts with Drake Anderson (252 yards, 2 TD) and Isaiah Bowser (212 yards, TD) in the backfield. QB Peyton Ramsey gets involved as well with 122 yards and two scores on the ground.

That’s on top of his 1,136 passing yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions. He’s not very good at throwing the ball down field, but can get it done on short routes. He’s also a sold signal caller and does a good job controlling the pace of the game. This is a slow and methodical offense that relies on their defense to put them in plus spots.

Spread Prediction

The Pick: Northwestern -14

The Wildcats will be hungry after losing last week and the Fighting Illini don’t have much to play for at this point. The Wildcats are still eligible for a marquee bowl game, but they must finish the season strong. The Wildcats are going to be too much for the Illini to handle and this one could get ugly. The Northwestern defense was exposed a week ago and I don’t expect them to make it a pattern. I like Northwestern big time in this one.

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Total Prediction

The Pick: Under 40.5
Final Score Prediction: Northwestern 31, Illinois 7

I don’t expect Illinois to have much success offensively at all. Brandon Peters is a quarterback that turns it over too much against regular defenses, let alone a Northwestern one that is at your throat from start to finish. The Wildcats offense isn’t potent in their own right, though they will run into 25-30 points. I just don’t see Illinois doing much at all.

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