The Illinois Fighting Illini (2-1) host the Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-1) this weekend for a BIG 10 West battle in Champaign. Kickoff is set for 8:00 PM EST on Saturday, September 21st at Memorial Stadium and the game will be televised on the BIG 10 Network.
Taking a look at the Week 4 college football odds, Nebraska opened as a 10-point road favorite earlier this week. That line has moved substantially after early betting, as the Cornhuskers are currently listed at -13.5. The total for the game is sitting at 62 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Illinois vs Nebraska
Nebraska got back above .500 overall last weekend after beating Northern Illinois 44-8 at home. The Cornhuskers scored 10 unanswered points in the first quarter and never looked back, as the Huskies were never even within two touchdowns of the lead over the final two quarters of the game. QB Adrian Martinez was effective through the air, going 16/27 for 257 passing yards and two touchdowns. He also had a strong showing on the ground, adding 44 rushing yards and another score on 11 carries. RB Dedrick Mills also found success running the football, scampering for 116 yards and a touchdown. J.D Spielman led the way for the receiving corps, hauling in a team-high four receptions for 76 yards. As a whole, Nebraska gained more than 500 yards of total offense and scored six touchdowns against a below average Northern Illinois defense.
The Cornhuskers defense played extremely well against the Huskies, holding Northern Illinois to just eight points on 300 yards of total offense. Nebraska was especially good against the pass, as QB Ross Bowers failed to throw a single touchdown and was picked off once.
Illinois lost their first game of the season last weekend, falling 34-31 at home to Eastern Michigan to drop to 2-1 overall. The Fighting Illini had a 17-14 lead at the end of the first quarter but couldn’t find a way to hold on, as the Eagles scored nine unanswered points in the second quarter and led the rest of the way. QB Brandon Peters struggled on several drives throughout the game, going 22/37 for 297 yards and two touchdowns but also throwing a costly interception. RB Reggie Corbin had a monster game on the ground, rushing for 144 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Josh Imatorbhebhe and Daniel Barker gave the Eastern Michigan secondary plenty of trouble, combining for 181 receiving yards and a touchdown. Overall, Illinois racked up almost 500 total yards of offense and scored four touchdowns in a losing cause.
The Fighting Illini defense didn’t have their best showing in Week 3, as the Eagles scored four touchdowns and gained almost 500 total yards of offense. Illinois really struggled to defend against the pass, allowing Eastern Michigan QB Mike Glass III to pass for 316 yards and three touchdowns.
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Illinois +13.5
When Nebraska opened at -10, I probably would have rolled with the Cornhuskers as I felt they offered decent value at anything under -11 or even -11.5. However, early betting has moved this line so far the other direction that I think taking the Fighting Illini and the points is the optimal play in this particular spot. Nebraska certainly hasn’t shown the ability to blow even average teams out of the water, let alone a conference rival playing at home. After beating South Alabama by 14 points in Week 1, they lost to Colorado in Week 2 before rebounding against Northern Illinois. Illinois certainly has the ability to stay within striking distance and even though I think they will ultimately come up just short, I’m not expecting them to lose by almost two full touchdowns. As such, laying almost 14 points in this matchup seems like a bit of a stretch to me.
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The Fighting Illini actually looked pretty good over the first two weeks of the season, hammering Akron 42-3 at home in Week 1 before beating Connecticut by over a touchdown in Week 2. While they certainly weren’t at their best in Week 3, they still managed to come almost all the way back after trailing at the half. Nebraska has really struggled on the road as of late, going a dreadful 0-8 straight up over their last eight games. Even though I think they should find a way to break that streak here in Week 4, Illinois should make them work for it – especially since QB Brandon Peters has already thrown nine touchdowns in just three games. The Buffaloes already showed that Nebraska can be somewhat susceptible to big plays through the air, so I like Peters chances of yet another multi-touchdown performance. I’m going to take a shot with the home underdog on Saturday – give me Illinois and the 13.5 points!