NCAA Football Free Betting Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan State Spartans

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The Illinois Fighting Illini and Michigan State Spartans are set to go at it on the grass at Spartan Stadium. FS1 is scheduled to televise the action and this key conference matchup gets underway at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Betting Preview: Michigan State Spartans vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois is a big road underdog in this Big 10 game and is currently receiving 14 points. In order to take the home favorite, moneyline bettors would currently have to lay down $600 to win $100 back on the Spartans (-600). The Fighting Illini are getting +425 moneyline odds. If one squad catches a lucky break early it will generate a solid in-game betting opportunity. Vegas has placed the over/under (O/U) at 45 points.

The early action has been swaying toward the Spartans. The line initially opened at -12 and the game’s over/under was originally 44.5.

The Fighting Illini are 6-3 against the spread (ATS) and have lost 0.1 units so far. They’ve been a good under bet and have posted an O/U record of 3-6.

The lackluster Spartans have lost 9.4 units this season. They’re 2-6 ATS and own an O/U record of 3-5.

The Fighting Illini are 5-4 straight up (SU), including 3-3 SU against conference opponents. The Spartans are 4-4 SU overall and 2-3 SU in conference play.

These two conference adversaries did not get a chance to play each other in 2018.

Michigan State enters this matchup on a zero-game winning streak while Illinois has lost zero in a row. The Fighting Illini are coming off a resounding 38-10 victory over Rutgers last week. Brandon Peters completed only six passes on 11 attempts for 120 yards and one touchdown. Reggie Corbin (51 yards on 13 rush attempts) led the running attack while Josh Imatorbhebhe (three receptions, 56 yards, one TD) and Donny Navarro (two catches, 57 yards) manned the receiving duties in the win.

Two weeks ago, Penn State got the win against this Michigan State crew by a score of 28-7. The Spartans defense allowed the Nittany Lions to eat up the clock by rushing for 113 yards on 37 attempts. KJ Hamler put up a productive outing for Penn State, accounting for 57 yards on five catches. As a group, the Spartans collectively completed 19-of-43 passes for 182 yards and two interceptions. Brian Lewerke went 16-for-34 for 165 yards and one interception while Rocky Lombardi was one-of-six for five yards and one interception. Elijah Collins (53 rushing yards on 17 attempts) led the running game as Matt Dotson (four receptions, 37 yards) and Tre Mosley (four catches, 37 yards) led the pass-catching corps in the loss.

Illinois has run the ball on 61.3 percent of its offensive possessions this year while Michigan State has an overall rush percentage of 47.6 percent. The Fighting Illini have produced 163 rush yards per game (including 160.5 per game versus Big Ten opponents) and have 16 touchdowns on the ground this year. The Spartans are putting up 112.9 rushing yards per game (86.2 in conference) and have seven total rush TDs.

It seems like the Spartans ought to hold an edge along both the offensive and defensive fronts, as their offensive line has yielded only 12 sacks while their D-line has registered 22 sacks. The Fighting Illini offensive line has allowed 28 sacks and their defense has sacked opposing signal-callerss just 22 times.

The Fighting Illini offensive scheme has averaged 162.8 yards in the air overall (124.5 per game against conference opposition) and has 14 passing TDs so far. The Spartans have produced 233 pass yards per contest (209 in the Big 10) and have 11 total pass scores.

Illinois has allowed opponents to run for an average of 187.4 yards and pass for 209.1 yards per game. The Michigan State D has allowed 195.6 yards per game to opposing passers and 117.1 yards per game on the ground. The Spartans are giving up an adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A) of just 4.88 to opposing QBs, while the Fighting Illini have allowed a 6.61 ANY/A.

Offensively, Peters is up to 1,091 passing yards on the year. He’s completed 56 percent of his 159 attempts with 13 scores through the air and only four interceptions. Peters has a 5.91 adjusted net yards per pass attempt, including 7.20 over the last two outings.

We’re expecting the Fighting Illini to control the pace by pounding the defense with their running backs. Donny Navarro (166 yards, one TD) has been a factor in the receiving game lately, but backfield mates Dre Brown (311 rush yards, four rush TDs) and Reggie Corbin (530 rush yards, four rush TDs) have been significant focal points in the offensive gameplans for Illinois.

Brian Lewerke has connected on 140-of-246 passes for 1,708 yards, 11 TDs and three INTs for Michigan State. His ANY/A stands at 6.78 for the season and 1.89 over his last two outings.

The Spartans also like to keep their running backs featured. In addition to Cody White (365 receiving yards, two receiving TDs), Elijah Collins (529 rush yards, three rush TDs) and Darrell Stewart Jr. (-8 rush yards, 635 receiving yards, four TDs) have gotten a multitude of touches recently.

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Michigan State Spartans Betting Pick

SU Winner: Michigan State, ATS Winner: Michigan State, O/U: Over

Team Betting Trends

  • Illinois has rushed for 4.4 yards per attempt across its past three games and 4.6 over its last two.
  • Michigan State has averaged 2.3 yards per carry over its last three outings and only 2.2 over its past two.
  • The Michigan State offense has lost seven fumbles this season while Illinois has lost six.
  • The Fighting Illini have made eight pass plays of 30+ yards while the Spartans have produced nine such plays.
  • The Illinois defense has allowed five pass plays of 40 or more yards, while Michigan State has given up three such plays.
  • The Illinois offense has created 16 rushing plays of 20 or more yards, while Michigan State has created six such runs.
  • The Fighting Illini defense has allowed 15 rushing plays of 20+ yards, while the Spartans have given up eight such runs.
  • Each team defense has tallied 22 sacks this season.