The Big Ten is a tight knit conference, and nobody knows that better than Fighting Illini coach Bret Bielema. Last week Bielema led his squad to a 34-10 win over Wisconsin, with Bielema being the head coach in Madison from 2006 to 2012. The Iowa at Illinois betting matchup sees Bielema’as alma mater Hawkeyes coming to Champaign, with him being a player in Iowa City from 1989-92 and starting his coaching career there as well from 1994-2001.
You’ll have to forgive the Hawkeyes (3-2) if they are not nostalgic ahead of the meeting with 4-1 Illinois. Iowa is coming off a 27-14 loss to Michigan last weekend as +10.5 home underdogs, and their offense has been repeatedly mocked as one of the worst in the country all season. Illinois hasn’t beaten Iowa since 2008, but are still -3.5 favorites for Saturday night’s matchup.
Iowa Offense Showing Improvement?
The bar wasn’t that high, but Iowa throwing for 246 yards last week against Michigan has to be considered a positive. Then again, both of the Hawkeyes TDs came in the 4th quarter when the Wolverines already had a 20-14 lead, but either way Iowa has averaged 22.6 ppg the last three weeks after scoring just 14 total in their first two games.
Spencer Petras is going to be under fire basically all season as the Iowa QB, mostly because the Hawkeyes barely got past South Dakota State in the opener 7-3 in a game that featured 21 punts and due to Iowa falling 10-7 the next weekend at home to rival Iowa State. Petras is at the helm of a Hawkeyes team that is 8th worst in the country with 261.8 ypg. Petras did go 21/31 for 246 yards last week against Michigan, which was his best game of the year to date.
Hawkeyes fans are no strangers to offensive inefficiencies, and this team still thinks it has the defense to turn this season around. We will find out in the week 6 Iowa at Illinois betting contest because Illinois features one of the best run offenses in the nation. Iowa comes into Saturday night’s game ranking 7th in yards allowed (254.4), 12th in passing yards (161.6), 14th vs. the run (92.8) and 3rd in points against (10.0).
Illini Got Something Brewing On the Ground
If Illinois’ Chase Brown blows up again on Saturday night vs. Iowa we’ll know he’s for real. Brown is playing himself into a high NFL draft pick next season as he leads the FBS with 733 rush yards through five games. Brown had 129 yards rushing against Wisconsin last week, solid numbers against a Badgers defense that is once again in the top 30 in total yards allowed.
Michigan’s Blake Corum was a workhorse last week against Iowa, running the ball 29 times for 133 yards. The fact that Corum can put up those types of numbers bodes well for Brown and the Illinois running game to get going on Saturday night at home.
Free Iowa at Illinois Betting Pick
Illinois really looks like the successful Iowa teams of the past – running the ball at will and playing solid defense. The Fighting Illini defense is perhaps the most underrated part of their team – #3 in the country allowing just 234.6 total yards/game and their 8.4 ppg allowed being #1. That defense should be able to pad their stats against a highly mediocre Iowa offense, and Illinois looks like they’ll run away with this one rather easily.
Free Pick: Illinois -3.5