Big Ten Free Betting Picks: Illinois Fighting Illini at Penn St Nittany Lions

Illinois Fighting Illini at #19 Penn St Nittany Lions
Beaver Stadium – University Park, Pennsylvania
Saturday, October 29, 2011, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: ABC, ESPN2, ESPN GP
Opening Line: Penn St -5 1/2
Current Line: Penn St -5
Opening Total: 40 1/2
Current Total: 38 1/2
Opening Money Line: Penn St -215 / Illinois +185
Current Money Line: Penn St -215 / Illinois +185

Penn St and Illinois clash in Happy Valley Sunday. Penn St is a 5 point favorite at home.

The 6-2 Illinois Fighting Illini travel to Happy Valley to take on the 7-0 Penn St Nittany Lions. It is a crucial Big Ten Leaders division contest as Illinois is 2-2 and Penn St is 4-0 in conference. Illinois, coached by Ron Zook, has lost two in a row at home to Ohio St 17-7 and at Purdue last week 21-14. The Illini had won 6 games in a row to start the season before the two game losing streak. Illinois has home wins over Arkansas St 33-15, South Dakota St 56-3, Arizona St 17-14, Western Michigan 23-20, Northwestern 38-35, and a road win at Indiana 41-20. Penn St is coached by Joe Paterno, and has only one loss at home to #1 Alabama 27-11. The Nittany Lions have home wins over Indiana St 41-7, Eastern Michigan 34-6, Iowa 13-3, Purdue 23-18, and road wins at Temple 14-10, Indiana 16-10, and last week at Northwestern 34-24. Penn St has won 6 in a row since the Alabama loss. Penn St leads the series against Illinois 14-4 including 6-1 in Beaver Stadium. Illinois won last year in University Park 33-13.

Illinois was a 3 point favorite on the college football betting line last week at Purdue. However, the Illini found themselves down 21-0 at halftime. Illinois scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to make the final 21-14. Illinois scored with less than a minute to go but were unable to recover the onside kick to give them a chance to tie or win the game. Illinois had 366 total yards including 245 passing yards, and 21 first downs. Illinois had 8 penalties and a turnover. Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 217 yards with no touchdowns or picks, but he did have a rushing touchdown. Running back Jason Ford had 10 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown, along with 5 catches for 69 yards. Receiver A.J. Jenkins had 8 catches for 92 yards. Purdue had 304 total yards, along with 15 first downs. The Boilermakers had 6 penalties and a turnover.

Illinois is averaging 417.1 yards a game including a top 25 rushing attack with 199.2  yards a game. Illinois passes 217.9 yards a game. Illinois is scoring 28.6 points a game. Illinois has 15 turnovers and has allowed 23 sacks this season. The Illini are 59/123 on third and fourth conversions, and 27/31 scoring in the red zone, but only have 21 touchdowns. Illinois has been great on defense this year allowing only 289 yards and 18.1 points a game, both are ranked in the top 15 nationally. The rush defense is #18 in the country allowing only 101.9 yards a game. The pass defense allows 187.1 yards a game.  Illinois has forced 27 sacks and 13 turnovers this season. Illini opponents are 44/127 on third and fourth down conversions, and 16/20 scoring in the red zone with 12 touchdowns. Illinois has 2 defensive touchdowns this season.

Scheelhaase is 122/189 passing with 1,624 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. He also has 123 carries, 412 yards, and 5 rushing touchdowns.  Ford has 101 carries, 392 yards, and 6 scores, along with 12 catches for 120 yards. Troy Pollard has 43 carries, 388 yards, and a touchdown.  Donovonn Young has 62 carries, 359 yards, and 4 touchdowns, along with 5 catches for 15 yards.  Jenkins has 62 catches, 987 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Darius Millines has 10 catches for 174 yards, and a touchdown. Millines is probable with a foot injury after missing the last 4 games. Evan Wilson only has 7 catches but 3 of them went for touchdowns. Kicker Derek Dimke hasn’t missed a kick in 33 tries, including 7 field goals with a long of 49 yards.

Last week, Penn St was a 4.5 point favorite last week at Northwestern. Penn St was up 27-24 at halftime, which was a surprising score as Penn St had scored more than 23 points in a game twice this season against lowly Indiana St and Eastern Michigan. Penn St scored the only points of the second half against Northwestern on a 29 yard touchdown run to win 34-24. The Nittany Lions had 389 total yards including 197 rushing yards. Penn St had been platooning quarterbacks Matthew McGloin and Rob Bolden until the Northwestern game. McGloin took all the snaps and threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Silas Redd had 18 carries, 164 yards, and a touchdown. Stephfon Green also had a rushing touchdown. Receiver Devon Smith had 6 catches for 110 yards, and a touchdown. Justin Brown also caught a touchdown pass. Northwestern had 406 total yards including 94 rushing yards. Both teams had a turnover.

Penn St has struggled this season on offense. The Nittany Lions are averaging 374.1 yards and 23.2 points a game. Penn St is averaging 206.2 passing yards and 167.9 rushing yards a game. The Lions have 13 turnovers and have allowed 7 sacks. Penn St is 55/127 on third and fourth down conversions, and 26/34 scoring in the red zone with 16 touchdowns. The defense for Penn St is ranked in the top 15 in most major categories except rushing defense and they are still ranked #19 in that category. Penn St is allowing 281.9 yards and 13.1 points a game. Penn St is allowing 180 passing yards and 101.9 rushing yards a game. The Lions have forced 18 sacks and 21 turnovers. Penn St opponents are 51/138 on third and fourth down conversions, and 19/20 scoring in the red zone with 11 touchdowns. Penn St has one special teams touchdown this season.

McGloin and Rob Bolden have split the snaps at quarterback this season, but neither has been spectacular. McGloin has put up better numbers, with 81/138 passing for 1,095 yards, and 7 touchdowns with 2 interceptions, with 16 carries for 6 yards. Bolden is 44/98 for 526 yards, a touchdown, and 4  interceptions. Redd has 165 carries for 869 yards and 6 touchdowns along with 8 catches for 31 yards. Curtis Dukes has 35 carries for 212 yards and a touchdown.  Michael Zordich has only 11 carries but he has two touchdown runs. Back-up Brandon Beachum has 21 carries for 81 yards but is probable  with an ankle injury, but hasn’t played in 5 games. Receiver Derek Moye has 28 catches for 485 yards, and 3 scores. he is doubtful with a foot injury after missing the last 2 games.  Justin Brown has 26 catches for 343 yards and a touchdown. Devon Smith has 16 catches, 297 yards and 2 scores.  Penn St has used 3 kickers this year and the three are 19/20 on extra points and 13/19 on field goals with a long of 43 yards.

Penn St is 2-6 against the spread this season, and the total is 1-6-1 this season. The Northwestern game was the first to go over this season for Penn St. Illinois is 3-5 ATS this season, and the total is 3-5 as well. The last 2 games have gone over the total in the series. Illinois is 8-1 ATS as an underdog, including 6-1 on the road, 8-2 after failing to cover, 9-3 on the road, 8-3 after a straight up loss,  8-17 on grass, 3-10 as an underdog of between 3.5 and 10 points, and 1-4 overall. Penn St is 5-1 ATS as a favorite of between 3.5 and 10 points, 20-8-2 in October games, 4-9 as a home favorite of between 3.5 and 10 points, 2-5 as a favorite, 2-6 after a straight up win, 4-12 as a home favorite, 2-7 on grass, 2-8 overall, 1-5 at home, and 1-7 against teams with winning records.

Penn St’s offense seemed to move better with McGloin exclusively taking the snaps. However, Northwestern struggles on defense, and Illinois is much better. Even though the total is only 38 1/2 I like this game to go under as these teams have both played 8 games and only 4 combined have gone over the total.

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