Illinois vs. Nebraska NCAAF Week 9 Betting Preview: Fighting Illini on Top of Big Ten

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Chase Brown #2 of the Illinois Fighting Illini runs the ball for a touchdown against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Justin Casterline/Getty Images/AFP.

Illinois is at the top of the Big Ten West standings and a clash with their conference rivals is on the docket for Saturday afternoon as the Fighting Illini invade Lincoln to take on the Cornhuskers. Let’s review the college football odds and break down this matchup as we look to keep cashing our college football picks.

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Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Saturday, October 29, 2022 – 3:30 PM EDT at Memorial Stadium

What You Should Know

When the preseason rankings came out the Illini were nowhere to be found. Coming off of a 5-7 record in 2021, there were modest expectations for this year’s edition but anything north of .500, and perhaps a bowl game, would have been considered an unequivocal success.

However, here we are 9 weeks into the season and Illinois is not only above .500 but is leading the Big Ten West with a 7-1 mark (5-2 ATS). Only a narrow 23-20 loss to the Hoosiers in Indiana is the only blemish on their otherwise pristine record.

The last time the Illini took the field was 2 weeks ago when they continued their quest for conference supremacy with an impressive 26-14 victory over Minnesota as 4.5 point-home underdogs.

Tommy DeVito connected on 25-of-32 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown, but the real story was junior tailback, Chase Brown, and his 41 carries for 180 rushing yards with one receiving touchdown.

Nebraska Continues to Struggle

After notching consecutive wins for the first time this season, Nebraska’s modest accomplishment ended abruptly in a 43-37 loss to Purdue.

Casey Thompson was 16-of-29 for 354 yards with 2 touchdowns and a pair of picks while Trey Palmer had nearly half of Nebraska’s 122 rushing yards with a 60-yard sprint that fell short of the goal line. Palmer also had a whopping 237 receiving yards on 7 catches and 2 touchdowns.

Defense Performance

But the Cornhusker defense was no match for Purdue’s dual-threat offense, allowing 391 passing and 217 rushing yards. Nebraska’s pass rush was unable to get to the quarterback, registering no sacks on the day but freshman defensive back, Malcolm Hartzog, did have the team’s lone interception.

Purdue’s big plays and dominant time of possession were too much to overcome for Nebraska. In Nebraska’s two victories prior to their loss to Purdue, the defense allowed an average of just 17 points per game in wins over Indiana and Rutgers. However, Purdue obliterated any hope that the Huskers’ defense would continue their modest string of stingy performances.

"With a team like that when they're scoring points, you've got to chase points, too," interim head coach Mickey Joseph said about the 25-minute disparity in possession time. "The defense fought - they fought. But it's tough to do that."

Team Trends

  • Illinois is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
  • Illinois is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games.
  • Illinois is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
  • Illinois is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a bye week.
  • Nebraska is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
  • Nebraska is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games.

Total Trends

  • Under is 3-0-1 in Illinois’s last 4 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
  • Under is 6-1-1 in Illinois’s last 8 games in October.
  • Under is 5-1 in Illinois’s last 6 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.
  • Under is 4-1-1 in Illinois’s last 6 games overall.
  • Under is 5-0 in Nebraska’s last 5 games after allowing more than 40 points in their previous game.

Teams' Offense Line

This game boils down to defense. One team has it in spades while the other only shows glimpses of it.

Illinois is ranked tops in the nation in total points (8.9) and total yards (225) allowed. If Nebraska was equipped with a high-octane offense, then they could very well have a chance in this game but the reality is they don’t.

Here is the Nebraska offense in a nutshell.

  • Nebraska's offense ranks 66th in points scored with 29.7 PPG.
  • Nebraska's passing attack ranks 38th with 269.4 YPG.
  • Nebraska's rushing attack ranks 68th with 164.7 YPG.

Pick and Prediction

Not terrible, but then again, I never said Nebraska was a terrible team. However, they are middling at best and the only positive they have going for them in this matchup is the home-field advantage, but even with that, they are 1-3 against the spread at Memorial Stadium.

I wish we could have gotten Illinois at the opener of -5.5 at the best sportsbooks, but the sharps have pushed this beyond 2 key numbers (6, 7) and it could drift even higher by kickoff. Let’s lay it and like it with the road chalk here.

Score Prediction: Illinois 31 - Nebraska 13

NCAAF Pick: Illinois -7.5 (-102) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Illinois -7.5 (-102)
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NCAAF Pick: Under 50.5 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Under 50.5 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.