The Iowa at Illinois pick for Saturday afternoon (3:30 PM EST, FS1) seems very winnable for the Hawkeyes as -13.5 favorites in Champaign. Kirk Ferentz’ team has rattled off four straight wins since the loss to Nebraska, but is also facing an Illini team on a 2-game win streak of their own.
Iowa could be in danger of the look ahead spot though, hosting Wisconsin in the regular season finale next week. Northwestern is still a game up in the B10 West on both the Hawkeyes and Badgers, and also owns the tie-breaker over them both. The Fighting Illini would still be easy to overlook in this spot, and Iowa won just 19-10 over Illinois at home last year as -15 favorites.
Can Hawkeyes Get the Blowout Win?
If Iowa plays like they did in their last visit to Champaign, the 59% of the betting public will be able to rest easy on Saturday as the Hawkeyes pulled out a 63-0 win in Champaign in 2018. Illinois has gained a lot of experience since that visit however, starting upper classmen in the entire front 7 of their defense.
Obviously the Hawkeyes can still win, and win big, in the Iowa at Illinois pick. Iowa beat Penn State by 20 on the road in week 12 as -1 favorites and dominated Minnesota 35-7 the week prior in the Twin Cities as -3 favorites.
Iowa did struggle a bit last Friday however, falling down 20-13 to Nebraska late in the 4th quarter before scoring the final 13 points of the game en route to a 26-20 victory, but as -12 favorites. Spencer Petras had less than 200 yards passing for the 4th straight game, as Iowa has the 3rd worst offense in the Big Ten.
Illini Have Upset On Their Minds?
The Fighting Illini have performed a 180 on their season, bouncing back from a 45-7 loss to Wisconsin and a 41-14 thumping by Minnesota to win their last two. One of those victories was a 23-20 win at Rutgers, but as +5.5 underdogs. The Illini looked real good their last time out, beating Nebraska 41-23 as +17 road underdogs.
Illinois should be rested after having their game with Ohio State cancelled last week at the last minute. Now the Illini will try to build on their 285 yard rushing performance against the Cornhuskers’ but against Iowa’s #3 rush defense in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes rank in the top 20 in the entire nation vs. the run as well.
Both Chase Brown and Mike Epstein ran for 100+ vs. Nebraska, but that’s also the 3rd worst rush defense in the conference. it’s highly likely that Illinois will need a big game from QB Brandon Peters to keep Saturday’s contest within 2 TDs. Peters was 18/25 vs. Nebraska, his first action since the Wisconsin season opener.
Free Iowa at Illinois Pick
Illinois needs to find a run defense – and fast as Iowa’s Tyler Goodson has gone for 100+ in 3 of the last 4 games. The Fighting Illini have a chance to keep things close if Petras is forced to beat them, but that all predicates on the front 7 upping their game. With a lot of experience among that group and Iowa looking ahead to the Badgers, the Illini will be in this one.
Iowa 24 – Illinois 20
Free Pick: Illinois +13.5