The #3 Michigan Wolverines (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten) host the Illinois Fighting Illini (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten) with a lot on the line in a Big Ten matchup of teams from the East and West Division.
If Michigan wins, the Wolverines remain unbeaten heading into a showdown with Ohio State next weekend, while the Illini need to win their remaining two games to have a shot at the West title.
Saturday’s matchup kicks off at 12 p.m. EST inside Michigan Stadium, better known as the Big House, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wolverines are an 18.0-point betting favorite, and the over/under total is set at 40.5 points.
What to Know – Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois has dropped back-to-back contests and put their West Division champions hopes in jeopardy. The Fighting Illini need to win out and have Purdue lose one of their final remaining games for a chance to head to the Big Ten Championship for the first time.
Tommy DeVito took over the role of starting quarterback for the Illini after transferring from Syracuse and has been an efficient game manager for head coach Brett Bielema. DeVito has thrown for 2,083 yards, throwing 15 touchdown passes to only three interceptions.
Junior running back Chase Brown leads the country in rushing yards with 1,442 but is questionable for Saturday’s contest with a lower leg injury. If Brown can’t go, his 144.2 yards per game average will be a huge blow to the Illinois offense.
Wide receiver Isaiah Williams becomes a focal point of the Illinois offense if Brown can’t go. The sophomore leads the team in receptions (64), yards (553), and touchdowns (5) and will have to step up if the Fighting Illini must rely more on the passing game.
What to Know – #3 Michigan Wolverines
The Wolverines are perfect this season and looking to stay that way before next week’s top 5 showdown versus Ohio State. Michigan is trying to get back to the Big Ten Championship for the second year in a row and punch its ticket to the College Football Playoffs.
J.J. McCarthy took over the quarterbacking duties full-time after splitting time with Cade McNamara to start the year. McCarthy is completing 69% of his throws, passing for 14 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Like the Illini, Michigan’s offense runs through its star running back, Blake Corum. The junior is second in the nation with 17 rushing touchdowns and fourth in yards with 1,349. Backup Donovan Edwards is a quality back as well, adding 471 yards and four scores.
Five pass-catchers have multiple touchdowns for Michigan, led by Red Zone threat Cornelius Johnson with four. Wide out Ronnie Bell leads the Wolverines in his senior season with 45 receptions, 597 yards, and two TDs.
The Pick is In
It is going to be a tough day for the Illini in Ann Arbor if Chase Brown can’t go, and while he might be trending in the right direction, don’t be surprised if Bielema keeps him on the sideline. Michigan’s roster is a step above Illini in talent, and the home-field advantage doesn’t hurt.
The Pick: #3 Michigan Wolverines -18