College Football Predictions Week 11: Michigan Wolverines vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

No. 24 Michigan Wolverines at Illinois Fighting Illini
Saturday, 11/12/11, 3:30 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  Michigan -1.5
Current Betting Line:  Michigan PK
Opening Total:  48
Current Total:  49.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Michigan Wolverines QB Denard Robinson is ninth in school history in passing and rushing yards

Michigan has now lost two of three games after last week’s 24-16 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes as 3.5-point road favorites, but the team has still out-gained seven of its nine opponents.  The Wolverines still believe they have a shot at reaching the Big Ten championship game despite the two defeats.  “I don’t think anybody can tell your what’s going to happen a minute from now, let along four weeks from now,” stated Wolverines first-year head coach Brady Hoke.  The program ranks second in point differential in Big Ten play, while allowing the second-fewest points.  Michigan is 4-17 ATS versus conference opponents the last two-plus years.

The Wolverines will be playing the Fighting Illini for the 93rd time, bringing in a 67-23-2 record, including a 40-6-2 mark in the last 48 meetings.  Michigan has caused 20 turnovers this year, ranking second in conference and 17th nationally in that department.  Offensively, led by quarterback Denard Robinson, the Wolverines have totaled 500-plus years in three of five Big Ten games.  The junior signal-caller ranks ninth in school history in passing yards and rushing yards.

Illinois will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak with the offense managing to score just 28 combined points in those contests.  The Fighting Illini are coming off a bye week, posting an 11-16 mark in that situation in the modern era.  Much of the discussion surrounding this game is centered around last year’s 67-65 meeting, as the program eventually fell as three-point road underdogs.  The 132 combined points were the most in conference history.  “Anytime you have a battle like that, it’s tough to come out on the wrong end,” commented Fighting Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.  Illinois is 8-4 ATS as an underdog the last two-plus years.

The Fighting Illini bring in a defense that ranks sixth nationally in allowing just 280.1 yards per game, while continuing to lead all teams in the Big Ten in sacks and tackles for loss.  Scheelhaase has enjoyed a solid campaign in ranking 25th among college football quarterbacks in pass efficiency.  He leads the Big Ten in total offense, just ahead of Robinson.  In the Ron Zook era, the Illini are 4-19 against ranked teams.

Bettors will likely back the Wolverines due to their 5-2 ATS mark on field turf, while the Fighting Illini are 2-5 ATS when playing at home.

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