Before the season, seeing the Fighting Illini come to East Lansing in the NCAA week 11 Illinois at Michigan State free pick was supposed to be a welcomed site for the Spartans. From October 5th to November 16th, MSU has had a gauntlet of Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State and with a visit to Michigan next week. All of a sudden though, Lovie Smith’s team doesn’t look like a pushover with their 3-game win streak. Oddsmakers still have Michigan State as over two TD favorites (MSU 14.5), but is that too many points in this sandwich game?
Illinois Surging Nicely in Conference Play
The Fighting Illini have a very definite signature win on the season, a last second 24-23 home win over then #6 Wisconsin. Was the win a fluke? Possibly, as Illinois was outgained 422 to 315 and had the ball just 19:11 to UW’s 40:49.
A win is a win though and Illinois being the darlings of college football for a weekend seems to have unlocked something within the team. The Fighting Illini have now rattled off three straight after a 24-6 win over Purdue and a 38-10 shellacking of Rutgers. The Illinois defense that had allowed three straight 40+ point games to start conference play has now held the Badgers to 158 on the ground, Purdue to 136 yards passing, and Rutgers to just 86 yards through the air. Granted the competition hasn’t been the greatest the last two, but wins = momentum.
Can the Illini be counted out for the SU win in the NCAA week 11 Illinois at Michigan State free pick at +477? Michigan State has played some elite programs the past three weeks, but they’ve also scored just a total of 17 points. Illinois has one of the best running games in the conference behind Reggie Corbin and the emergence of Sr. Dre Brown. The Illini are extremely one-dimensional though with a passing game that goes for just 162 per game.
What Does Michigan State Have Left in the Tank?
MSU had a much needed bye last week. Having to play Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State in consecutive weeks really takes a toll on the body. Michigan State is 4-4 on the year and largely controls its own destiny with games against Illinois, Rutgers, and Maryland still on the schedule. One has to wonder how focused the Spartans are coming off the bye week and with their biggest game of the year looming next week vs. the state rival Wolverines?
The competition was elite, but you still have to wonder if there are questions surrounding the Michigan State offense after posting point totals of 7, 0, and 10 the last three weeks. The Spartans rushing totals the last three weeks have been 69, 30, and 87 and the Spartans had just 149 total yards in the game against the Badgers. Brian Lewerke has been a non-factor the last two games with 53 and 165 yards passing, and he’s gotten the hook in the 4th quarter in each. Still, a game vs. Illinois has the potential to be a nice bounce back for the Senior.
Forget offensive questions, MSU doesn’t exactly have stability on the defensive side of the ball either. The Spartans have allowed 28+ points in 4 straight games which started in a 40-31 victory over Indiana with MSU as -14.5 favorites. Add to the fact that Mark Dantonio is now without leading tackler Joe Bachie (36 solo, 35 assists) who tested positive for banned substances and Illinois could have their chances in this one.
NCAA Week 11 Illinois at Michigan State Free Pick
MSU is just in a tough spot with this one. They’ve had back-to-back-to-back huge games, then a bye week, then an awkward sandwich spot with Illinois before heading on to Ann Arbor in week 12. The Fighting Illini have kind of gotten used to this winning thing even though they’ve beaten up on two tomato cans after the Wisconsin victory. Michigan State may win this tilt, but 14.5 is a lot of points with the matchup and intangibles.
Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini +14.5