Illinois vs. North Carolina
Time: NOON, Sat., Sept 19, 2015
Spread: UNC -8
M/L: UNC -350; ILL +275
Betting odds courtesy of Bovada
Illinois improved to 2-0 last week with a 44-0 victory over Western Illinois. The Fighting Illilni won Week 1 against Kent State by a tally of 52-3. This week it will have a tougher opponent in ACC foe North Carolina, and the Tar Heels are 8-point favorites at Bovada with the over/under being set at 64 points.
Wes Lunt thus far has been very good at QB for Illinois. He has thrown 44 of 65 for 478 yards (67.7 percent) with a 7.35 yard per completion average. RB Josh Ferguson has been consistently good, having rushed for 115 yards on 25 carries (4.6 yards per) and he has two rushing TDs on the year.
Ferguson has caught for another 63 yards on seven receptions, and Geronimo Allen leads the team with 181 yards receiving on 10 catches. Marchie Murdock has been good for 93 yards and a pair of TDs including a 34-yard reception TD. Lunt has thrown for five TDs and has just one INT.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Henry Enyecnihi have been reasonably effective in the backfield thus far too. Vaughn has rushed for 96 yards and Enyenihi has been good for 47 yards, as well. Backup QB Chayce Crouch has thrown 8 of 17 for 83 yards and two TDs.
North Carolina lost in Week 1 to South Carolina, 17-13. It rebounded to win 53-14 over North Carolina A&T last week. Super QB Marquise Williams has thrown 34 of 51 (66.7 percent) for 443 yards with an 8.69 yard per attempt average while also having rushed for 62 yards and a TD. Williams has thrown three INTs this season to match his three TDs.
Elijah Hood has been a good option in the in backfield, having rushed for 194 yards on 29 carries (6.7 yards per carry) with two TDs. Bug Howard and Ryan Switzer have each caught for over 100 yards on the season and Howard has one of just four UNC receiving TDs. Nick Weiler has hit 3 of 3 FG including two from 40-plus yards, and he should be a good boost for the Tar Heels if this game is close as oddsmakers anticipate it to be.
Williams is now in his senior season and is coming off a 3,000-plus yard year last season in which he was good for 63.1 percent of his passes. He posted a raw QB rating of 62.0 last season but is good for just 38.0 thus far this year and will be looking to get back on track this week against a questionable Illinois defense.
Williams was sacked 26 times last year but threw just nine INTs to his 21 TDs, and he is the key to what could be a dangerous Tar Heels team. But thus far he has been mostly underwhelming and he has to make better decisions. South Carolina exposed him, but Illinois is not quite that level of defense to be fair.
The Tar Heels should be able to emerge as at least seven-point victors in this game given Williams talent alone. What is tougher to assess is if Lunt is for real or if he has just racked up a lot of meaningless numbers thus far. It is a nice value to bet the spread on UNC in this contest. The UNDER seems to be a reasonable value on 64 points.