Big Ten Football Clash: Illinois Fighting Illini at Northwestern Wildcats

Kain Colter has been good, but the real story has been the ground game for Northwestern. Colter has 700+ rushing yards as a dual threat QB.
Time: Noon EST, Saturday
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: NW -19.5
Total: 50
M/L: NW -1000, ILL +700

Betting Odds from Bookmaker

Oh, what a season for the Fighting Illini. After beginning a decent 2-1 (with wins over Western Michigan and CSU), they’ve proceeded to drop their last eight games, and only last week’s loss to Purdue was even close.

In the 20-17 defeat to the Boilermakers, the Fighting Illini managed 333 yards and controlled the clock, and had more first downs, but Illinois’ only scoring in the second half was a 54 yard field goal. Impressive field goal, but not an impressive half for the Fighting Illini.

Junior QB Nathan Scheelhaase has thrown the ball well, but hasn’t got enough protection from the line. The 6’3″ quarterback from Kansas City has a 60.3 percent completion ratio, but his QB rating is just a 106.8 due to his 22 sacks on the season. Due to this, the Fighting Illini rank near the bottom of the nation in passing yards, with just 173.6 per game, and their rush attack isn’t much better, as they rank 98th in the nation in rushing yards with 128 per game.

They’re just not scoring, averaging only 16.9 points per game while giving up 30.5 per game. Their margin of defeat ranks among the worst in the nation, and this week’s game against Northwestern could prove to be a total embarrassment. College football oddsmakers agree, setting the line 19.5 points in favor of the Wildcats.

Northwestern has faced both of the Michigan squads the last two weeks, and while they lost in OT to Michigan, they were able to emerge victorious by a field goal over Michigan State. The problem has been, that they did really well against non-conference opponents, going 5-0, but are just 4-3 in conference games.

QB Travis Siemian has thrown for 1,183 yards on the year, and his backup Kain Colter threw for 694. But the story of the Wildcats has been the rushing of Venric Mark, who has 1,183 yards on the year and averages 6.1 yards per carry. That helps the Wildcats rank 16th in the nation in rushing yards, with 221 per game. The attack isn’t balanced, but it is still pretty good, as they average nearly 30 points per game, while giving up just 23.5 (38th in the nation).

Expect Northwestern to dominate this on both ends of the ball and emerge with an easy victory.


Fighting Illini are 11-23 ATS in their last 34 games after allowing 200+ rushing yards previous game, 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games after accumulating less than 170 passing yards, 1-4 ATS in their last 5 after scoring less than 20 in the previous game, 1-6 ATS in their last 7 following an SU loss, 0-6 ATS in their last 6 following an ATS win, and 0-5 ATS in their last 5 on the road.


Wildcats are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 conf games, 6-0 ATS in their last 6 home games, 7-0 ATS in their last 7 after allowing more than 280 passing yards previous week, 5-11 ATS in their last 16 home games vs teams with losing records, 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall.

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