Week 2 College Football Parlay (+270): Illinois Ready to Bounce Back

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Chase Brown #2 of the Illinois Fighting Illini is tackled by Miles Williams #14 of the Wyoming Cowboys during the second half at Memorial Stadium. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

For this week’s college football parlay, I wish to zero in on one game:

  • Virginia vs. Illinois

The top sportsbooks have released their NCAAF odds for this week’s college football action, and for reasons that I will explain, I’m leaning towards playing both the side and total for this game.

Feel free to parlay both bets at your preferred online sports betting site in order to maximize your profit.

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

Saturday, September 10, 2022 – 04:00 PM EDT at Memorial Stadium

Virginia's Offense Last Year

Last year, too, Virginia and Illinois played each other, and Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong exceeded 400 passing yards.

If you don't know what Virginia's offense was like last year, though, then you will likely overstate the significance of Armstrong's seemingly impressive passing total against Illinois.

Armstrong repeatedly passed for 400 or more yards because he was the centerpiece of the Cavalier offense.

In fact, against Illinois, he nearly also led his team in rushing yards.

Thus, Armstrong's passing total in last year's game might be taken as a sign of his dominance against the Illini secondary, when in fact his performance revealed nothing of the sort.

This Year's Virginia Offense: Wide Receivers

Explicitly, Virginia's offense is determined to move from the pass-heavy, air raid concept of last year to something more balanced.

This move is necessary on many levels. For starters, the wide receiver depth isn't there to justify passing 50 times.

This lack of depth was created in particular by injuries to Malachi Fields and Dakota Twitty.

Already in the season opener, a concerning number of drops happened because existing Cavalier wide receivers had to see the field more often in a limited rotation.

These drops, this fatigue, and this reliance on too few wide receivers all happened even though Virginia's offense did implement a balanced attack that actually ran more often than it passed.

Virginia Pass-Catchers

Last season, Armstrong relied heavily on current Indianapolis Colt tight end Jelani Woods for his production against the Illini.

To be exact, Woods accounted for just over 30% of Armstrong's yardage and was easily his team's leading pass-catcher.

Woods is gone, and while his absence might lead to desperately needed improvement in blocking, although only a slight one, Virginia will miss his pass-catching prowess.

To be clear, despite its lack of depth, Cavalier wide receivers easily form the strength of their offense, along with Armstrong.

Illinois Secondary

But Illinois' secondary is strong because of its returning cornerback play, including but in no way limited to Devon Witherspoon, who was an All-Big Ten honorable mention last year.

While the Illini struggled to limit the likes of Woods, they thrived against the Big Ten's finer wide receiver offerings.

For example, Illinois limited Nebraska's Samori Toure to 37 receiving yards. Toure would go on to accrue 898 receiving yards on the season.

Similarly, the Illini limited Penn State's Jahan Dotson, who amassed 1,182 receiving yards last season, to one of his lesser performances, and they also kept him out of the end zone.

Because Virginia's pass attack, this season, is dependent on its wide receivers, Illinois' secondary is well-equipped to limit Virginia's passing offense.

Virginia's Offensive Line

Though already far from being good last year –its nationally average sack rate could be disguised by Armstrong's mobility– the Wahoo offensive line entered this season in shambles.

Virginia lost every player –all six of them– who had meaningful starting experience on the offensive line.

Having essentially to start over is naturally much harder to do at the beginning of the season.

This is especially true for UVA, whose offensive line was cursed with injuries in the offseason, derailing any semblance of continuity from one week of training to the next.

Illinois Pass Rush

The lack of continuity alongside Virginia's offensive line entails a disrupted ability to develop chemistry, the lack of which will play itself out in favor of an Illini front seven that does not have this same problem.

Among multiple starting linebackers and others from last season, Illinois brings back defensive ends Jer'Zhan Newton and Keith Randolph Jr. As redshirt freshmen, both combined for 7.5 sacks.

Illinois' front seven is also more than ready to limit a Virginia running back group that is annually bereft of talent, the lack of which gets magnified by the team's run-blocking issues, although they didn't appear as glaring as expected against lowly Richmond last week.

Continuity at the running back position is rather a bad thing against an Illini front seven that already shut down Indiana running backs last week and that, personnel-wise, is obviously many times more formidable than Richmond.

Illinois' Ground Game

Whereas Virginia's offense will struggle to do what it wants against Illinois, the Illini will have their way against a Virginia defense that has so much to improve upon after ranking 123rd in total defense last year and that has to learn new defensive schemes right now.

The Illini are strongest on the ground, where they boast a positive group of running backs headed by Chase Brown. Already, through two games, Brown has amassed 350 rushing yards on 6.4 YPC.

Virginia's run defense, which allowed Richmond to amass 170 rushing yards on 35 carries, will continue to allow its opponent to enjoy big holes and open running lanes.

As it did last week, Illinois will utilize its ground game to dominate time of possession.

This clear ability to flourish on the ground separates its offense from Virginia's.

Missing Joey Blount

The Cavalier defense and its pass defense specifically will also miss Joey Blount, who departed for the NFL and brought his mixture of tone-setting leadership, heavy hitting, and good and savvy ball skills and pass coverage with him.

In recent history, Virginia's pass defense has suffered terribly, stat-wise, when Blount was injured.

Parlay Verdict

Expect Illinois, both literally and figuratively, to run away with this game, while its pass rush and secondary skill on defense combine with its ball-control on offense to ensure that this game does not approach the high posted total.

For the above reasons, for today's NCAAF pick, parlay the Illini and the "under" with your best bets.

Be sure to use our trusty parlay calculator for your parlay betting needs.

  • Fighting Illini -4.5 (-105)
  • Under 58 (-112)

NCAAF Pick: Two-Legged Parlay (+270) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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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.