Bret Bielema developed a reputation for powerful, hard-nosed play in Wisconsin, and he has brought that to the campus of the University of Illinois. Although they haven’t entered the upper reaches of the Big Ten just yet, BetOnline patrons saw these Illini gave Michigan life and death before succumbing on a last-second field goal. Their defense is legit. And so is the ground game.
We’ll see that on display against Northwestern. And we have more beyond that…..
Illinois Fighting Illini at Northwestern Wildcats, 3:30 PM ET
NCAA Football Lines: Illinois -15
Total: 38 Points
After winning their opener after a comedy of errors by Nebraska, Northwestern has lost ten straight games. They haven’t put together much offense; the Wildcats have scored in single digits in five of their last seven games. But somehow, their defense has enabled them to keep some of these games respectable, as they’ve permitted just 17 against Penn State and Purdue and 21 to Ohio State.
Illinois’ big asset is running back Chase Brown, who leads the nation with 1582 rushing yards. And the Illini are second in the nation in total defense. But they have not often had a lot of room for comfort; they’ve tallied more than 30 points only against Wyoming and Wisconsin.
The Play: UNDER 38
Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Duke Blue Devils, 3:30 PM ET
ACC Football Lines at BetOnline: Wake Forest -3
Total: 67.5 Points
Whatever the expectations for the Duke Blue Devils this season, first-year head coach Mike Elko, the former defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, has exceeded them. His team has eight wins and is bowl eligible, and they are out looking for revenge in this one. Last year was one of those humiliations in which Duke gave up 677 yards of offense in a 45-7 defeat.
But do they have the offensive firepower to make that happen behind Riley Leonard? Admittedly Wake showed some real chinks in the defensive armor last week in giving up 324 passing yards and 35 points to Syracuse; hence, most of the football sports betting sites still prefer Sam Hartman to provide enough guns that the Blue Devils can’t keep up.
The Play: WAKE FOREST -3
Hawaii Rainbows at San Jose State Spartans, 3:30 PM ET
College Football Lines: San Jose St. -15.5
Total: 58.5 Points
Hawaii has lost five games by two touchdowns or more, which means they are fully capable of folding here. And they have lost all their road games. This is one of the softest front seven groups in the nation, allowing 5.9 yards per carry. But does San Jose State have what it takes to exploit it? The Spartans have shown an atrocious offensive line, which has allowed 39 sacks and cleared the way (or not, as it were) for 3.1 yards per rushing attempt.
The Spartans have a dangerous pass rush, which leads the nation in sack percentage. An interesting angle here is SJSU quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, who was formerly the starting signal-caller for the ‘Bows and has hit his stride in his new home, throwing for 2668 yards and a solid 18-3 ratio of TD’s to interceptions.
The Play: SAN JOSE STATE -15.5
Appalachian State Mountaineers at Georgia Southern Eagles, 6 PM ET
NCAA Football Odds: App State -6
Total: 66 Points
Clay Helton has done a heck of a job taking a Georgia Southern team that had been knee-deep in the option offense and turning it into more of a pro-style passing attack. That’s not the easiest thing in the world; just ask Geoff Collins, who tried to transform Georgia tech right up the road, which had run the option under former G-Southern mentor Paul Johnson and installed a pro-style, only to get himself a pink slip.
Quarterback Kyle Vantrease, a transfer from Buffalo, is sixth in the nation in passing yards. The Eagles have wins over Nebraska and James Madison and can get bowl-eligible here.
Appalachian State’s Chase Brice, who had been Trevor Lawrence’s backup at Clemson, had made good on his third stop (he was at Duke as well), throwing 25 touchdown passes with only six INT’s. But we like Helton to affect a big finish here.
The Play: GEORGIA SOUTHERN +6
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