Illinois Football Predictions

The Illinois Fighting Illini managed to just 4-8 in 2013 and were just 1-7 inside Big Ten play, with their only win coming by a final of 20-16 against a horrible Purdue team that didn’t win a single conference game. The pressure is on head coach Tim Beckman to put a more competitive product on the field in 2014. In his first two years on the job, Illinois has gone just 1-15 in conference games with 12 of the 15 losses coming by double-digits.

Beckman will welcome back 14 starters from last year’s team, but will have to replace starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who finished 3rd all-time in school history with 8,568 passing yards. The good news for Illinois is they are excited about the potential of sophomore Wes Lunt, who transfered to Champaign after starting 5 games for Oklahoma State in 2012 (lost starting job due to injury). Helping out matters even more is an offensive line that has a combined 96 career starts coming back.

Last Season
Big Ten (Leaders)
ATS Record
Points For
Points Against
2014 Illinois Fighting Illini Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
8/30 Youngstown State
9/6 Western Kentucky
9/13 @ Washington
9/20 Texas State
9/27 @ Nebraska
10/4 Purdue
10/11 @ Wisconsin
10/25 Minnesota
11/1 @ Ohio State
11/15 Iowa
11/22 Penn State
11/29 @ Northwestern
Estimated Wins: 5.57

One of the big keys for the Illini in 2014 is that they have to get better play out of their defense. All the progress that the offense made under offensive coordinator Bill Cubit was negated by a defense that allowed almost 100 more yards of total offense than it did in 2013. Getting back 8 starters will certainly help, but improvements can also be expected based on last year’s poor 13.6 yards per point. Illinois allowed 7.34 points for every 100 yards of total offense, which is something that’s not easy to do. Look for Illinois to be close to the national average, which could result in a big time improvements from the awful 35.4 ppg they allowed last year.

Another area where the Fighting Illini could see some improvement is in the turnover department. Illinois had an awful -10 turnover margin in 2013 and -12 turnover margin in 2012. Rarely do teams have finish double-digits in the negative in consecutive years. I do have my concerns with a new quarterback stepping in, but chances are Illinois will see a positive jump in this area of the game.

Don’t be surprised if Illinois gets off to a strong start in 2014. The Illini have a favorable schedule early that features three winnable non-conference games against Youngstown State, Western Kentucky and Texas State. They also have a home conference game against Purdue. Chances are they will be sitting at 4-2 at the halfway point, but it could go all downhill from there. The Fighting Illini have a brutal road schedule inside conference play and a trio of difficult home games against Minnesota, Iowa and Penn State. The big difference from last year to this season is that instead of playing their winnable games inside the Big Ten on the road, this time they get them at home.

The 3rd season under a head coach is typically when you start to see the team take off, but I’m not convinced that will be the case for Beckman at Illinois. The numbers suggest the Fighting Illini will be better and I agree, but there’s a major gap this team has to make up before being taken seriously in the Big Ten. It’s not like Beckman has a stockpile of young talent. Illinois had the 70th ranked recruiting class in the country in 2014.

Regular Season Win Total
Big Ten Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
200 to 1
Odds Courtesty of Bovada
Season Predictions

Even with four home games that Illinois should have no problem winning, I don’t see enough talent on the roster to expect this team win any of their remaining games and I wouldn’t be shocked if they managed to lose to Purdue at home. I got the Fighting Illini going 4-8 overall and just 1-7 inside Big Ten play. While my prediction would suggest a play on the UNDER 4.5 for their win total, this is not one that I would recommend betting.

Illinois was able to go a respectable 6-6 ATS last year and chances are they will be an even stronger play against the number in 2014, largely do to the fact that this team has been so bad at winning games over the last two years, the public is going to want nothing to do with them. Look for oddsmakers to inflate the other side and create a lot of value with the Fighting Illini. Depending on how Lunt and the defense look, Illinois could be a team worth backing in the majority of their games this season.

2014 Projections
Big Ten (West)
Big Ten Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
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Big Ten
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