After a week of scrutiny, the Michigan State Spartans will travel to Champaign to do battle with the one-loss Illinois Fighting Illini. With that being said, it is time to check out our College Football odds series, where our Michigan State-Illinois prediction and pick will be revealed.
While there were definitely some chippy moments out on the gridiron, the Spartans decided to partake in a scuffle that saw at least Michigan State players ensure havoc upon members of Michigan in a tunnel that did not end up leading to either side’s locker room. When the dust settled and the video was reviewed, Michigan State had no choice but to suspend eight players who were a part of the brawl. Now obviously shorthanded, can the Spartans overcome the adversity by stealing a road win at Illinois?
Getting off to a slow start on the road in Lincoln, Illinois rebounded nicely by scoring 20 unanswered points in the 26-9 win against Nebraska. With dreams and aspirations of winning a Big Ten title and possibly being a player in the College Football Playoff, the 16th-ranked Fighting Illini have proved that they are no joke.
Here are the Michigan State-Illinois college football odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
College Football Odds: Michigan State-Illinois Odds
Michigan State Spartans: +16.5 (-104)
Illinois Fighting Illini: -16.5 (-118)
Over: 40.5 (-112)
Under: 40.5 (-108)
Why Michigan State Could Cover The Spread
Rivalry games really do bring out the best in us, don’t they? In one of the more hated rivalries in all of college football, Michigan State was overpowered by seventh-ranked Michigan at the Big House by a score of 29-7. Simply put, last Saturday was absolutely ugly in every sense of the word both on and off the field. To make matters worse, the Spartans enter this contest without eight key contributors on both sides of the ball and will have a slim margin of error if they are planning on covering the spread and coming away with the road-upset victory.
For starters, the Spartans will need to figure out a way to move the ball against an Illinois defense that only gives up 226 yards per game. With that being said, Michigan State’s best bet will be to expose the Illinois secondary through the air. With QB Payton Thorne under center, it will be up to the junior field general to keep the offense ahead of the chains and to generate scoring drives to keep pace with Illinois.
Even more glaringly bad has been the Spartans’ defense. Through eight games played, MSU has given up on average 424 yards per game and will need to adjust accordingly if they want any chance in this one. More specifically, it will be a must for the Spartans to stop the run on early downs to force third-and-longs in order to get after the quarterback and generate some pressure to make life uncomfortable for the Fighting Illini offensive attack.
Why Illinois Could Cover The Spread
Not many college football experts expected Illinois to be in the position that they are in prior to the season, but here they are! At 7-1 including a 4-1 mark in conference play, the Fighting Illini are determined to prove that they belong among the country’s elite squads.
The biggest advantage that Illinois will have this Saturday will be on the defensive side of the ball. Believe it or not, the Fighting Illini have allowed 20 points only once thus far. By boasting one of the top defenses in not only the Big Ten but in all of college football, Illinois has a chance to win and cover the spread in every game they play thanks to their ferociousness and ball-hawking skills when trying to keep their opposition out of the end zone.
Not to mention, Illinois is certainly no slouch when it comes to their offensive onslaught. At first glance, the Fighting Illini should have no trouble in pounding the rock down Michigan State’s throats. Illinois is led by running back Chase Brown who also happens to lead the entire nation in yards on the ground with 1,208 total. This could spell trouble for the Spartans, as Michigan State has been gouged in the run game up to this point and is allowing a whopping 168 rushing yards per game.
Not only does Illinois have Chase Brown at their disposal, but they are also equipped with a steady quarterback in Tommy Devito who rarely turns the ball over and can make any throw on a football field. When this Illinois offense is clicking on all cylinders, it is when they are utilizing the run game to its fullest while incorporating a heavy dosage of play-action passes that leaves defenses on their heels.
Final Michigan State-Illinois Prediction & Pick
Coming off a flat-out embarrassing effort in every sense last weekend, it is hard to imagine that Michigan State will be in the right state of mind to shock the college football world and come up with the win. Hammer the Fighting Illini to get the job done in dominating fashion.
Final Michigan State-Illinois Prediction & Pick: Illinois -16.5 (-118)