The Northwestern Wildcats will take on the Illinois Fighting Illini this weekend in Big 10 West action. Kickoff is set for 4:00 PM EST on Saturday, November 25th from Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois. The game will be televised on FS1.
The Wildcats enter the game as 16.5-point road favorites. That line has shifted slightly after early betting, as Northwestern originally opened at -14. The over/under is set at 45.5 points. Click here for a full list of Week 13 betting odds and links to game previews.
Northwestern vs Illinois Game Preview & Betting Odds
The Wildcats have now won six consecutive games after a very impressive 39-0 victory against Minnesota last weekend. QB Clayton Thorson only passed for 86 yards after a run-heavy Wildcats offense was able to find success all afternoon long. However, Thorson did also manage to throw three touchdowns against the Golden Gophers. RB Justin Jackson led the way on the ground, racking up a very impressive 161 rushing yards on 31 total carries. Of course, the Wildcats defense was also a huge story against Minnesota. Northwestern did a marvellous job of shutting down the Minnesota offense all game, limiting them to just 182 total yards. The Golden Gophers were also just 1 out of 11 on third downs. Both sides of the ball have been solid for the Wildcats this year en route to another bowl game and an overall record of 8-3 on the season.
Illinois is still in search of their first conference victory of the season after a blowout 52-14 loss against Ohio State last weekend. The Illini were badly outmatched by the Buckeyes and only managed to gain 105 total yards all game long. QB Chayce Crouch started at quarterback for the first time since Week 4 and looked abysmal, going just 4 for 14 for 16 yards. To make matters even worse for the Fighting Illini, they were without the services of starting RB Mike Epstein, who is out for the remainder of the season with an injury. Things were equally bleak on the other side of the ball, as Ohio State managed to gain more than 500 total yards while also giving up 300+ yards rushing. The loss against the Buckeyes dropped Illinois down to 0-8 overall in conference play.
Free College Football Against the Spread Pick: Northwestern -16.5
Although I am slightly concerned about having to lay over two touchdowns, I think that the Wildcats offense should do enough in this one to cover the spread. Illinois just gave up 50+ to Ohio State and will likely be on the receiving end of another blowout loss. The Wildcats defense just shut out Minnesota and they are definitely talented enough to have a similar performance against an anemic Illini offense again this weekend. I feel fairly confident that taking Northwestern against the spread is the correct play in this particular match-up.
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The Wildcats are 6-0 ATS over their past six games overall while also going 6-0 ATS in their past six games against opponents with a losing record. They are also a very impressive 12-5 ATS in their last 17 meetings against Illinois. The Illini are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games against teams with winning record and just 5-11 ATS over their past 16 homes games overall. I fully expect for all of those trends to continue this weekend.
Illinois has now scored 14 or less points in four consecutive games. I don’t think that there is even a remote chance they get back on track against a Northwestern defense that is ranked 30th overall nationwide in terms of points allowed per game (21.0). I fully expect another lopsided victory for the Wildcats en route to a solid 9-3 regular season record.