Big Ten Football Odds, Trends: Illinois Fighting Illini at (3) Michigan Wolverines

Jim Harbaugh-michigan-2015Illinois-Michigan
Time: 3:30 PM ET
Spread: MIC -39.5
Total: 54.5

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

Illinois snapped a four-game losing streak last week with its 24-7 win lover lowly Rutgers. Now back to being heavy underdogs and getting blown out again: Illinois travels to face No. 3 ranked Michigan as 39.5 point underdogs in a game which will be televised at 3:30 PM ET on the Big Ten Network.

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The Fighting Illini really find themselves headily outmatched this week with one of the nation’s top teams and Big Ten powerhouse Michigan. Illinois is struggling to move and score the football this year, averaging 26.3 points per game (No. 86) while ranking No. 103 in passing yards (181.5) and No. 50 in rushing (189.8).

Senior QB Wes Lunt returned to practice this week, but it is unclear whether the 6’5” quarterback will suit up for Saturday’s game. It might be a good one to hold him out of. Lunt has thrown 60.5 percent for completion this year with six TDs and just one pick, but he has been sacked nine times and if his back is still creaky it will be even more difficult to avoid the Michigan blitzes.

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Moreover, backup QB Chayce Crouch did well in his two starts, throwing 18 of 32 for 249 yards with a TD (and one pick). Given this game is hardly winnable for Illinois, it might be best to give Lunt one more week off. Of course, Crouch is battling his own injury issues after sustaining a shoulder injury last week.

If the Fighting Illini do go with Crouch, it will mean a lot of carries for Kendrick Forster and Reggie Corbin. Foster is averaging 6.2 yards per attempt this season, while Corbin is good for 9.3 yards on his 35 attempts. Foster has five of Illinois’ 10 rushing TDs on the season, too.

Illinois has been a good team rushing the football, but with just Malik Turner catching passes, Lunt has often found himself struggling for targets. Turner has 31 catches for 427 yards, but No. 2 in both those categories is Justin Hardee with just 11 catches for 106 yards. Illinois has also scored just seven passing TDs with three coming from Turner.

Michigan absolutely smashed Rutgers last week in ruthless fashion, winning 78-0 while allowing a remarkable 39 total yards off offense from Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights completed just 2 of 18 passes and averaged less than one yard per carry on its 36 rushes.

The Wolverines had an offensive field day, too, rushing for 481 yards and paced by Chris Evans’ 153 yards on 11 carries. Karan Higdon and Ty Isaac added another 197 yards between them, with both scoring two TDs in the game. Michigan had nine rushing TDs and Wilton Speight and John O’Korn each threw for a TD, as well. It was just a dominant performance from a nationally ranked team outclassing one of the worst in the Big Ten.

This week will be similar, though expecting Michigan to bounce Illinois all over the field in similar fashion almost seems cruel. The Wolverines will not face their big test until the season finale against No. 2 ranked Ohio State. Between that time, only MSU and Iowa stand in the way of what could be a perfect season for the Wolverines.

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