As the Big Ten West is still wide open for the taking, week six has a matchup that features two teams that will be fighting for that top spot at the end of the Big Ten Season. The Iowa Hawkeyes will be heading to Champaign to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini. Both these teams currently have winning records but it is Illinois who has been the team that has been surprising people this season.
Bret Bielema has gotten the Illini off to a 4-1 start which featured a shocking win last week as they shocked Wisconsin in Madison winning 31-10. Iowa has been scrappy this season and was able to get a big win against Rutgers, but struggled to keep up with highly favored Michigan last week as they fell 27-14. Iowa has had a lot of criticism this year as their offense has been nothing short of lackluster. Their defense on the other hand has been great so far this season and will be their bread and butter to rely on for the remainder of the season. Let’s break into this game’s matchup picks and predictions.
Iowa Vs. Illinois Odds
The Illini’s explosive offense so far this season has led many to believe that they will be a top contender in the Big Ten West. At home, they are entering this game as close favorites over the Hawkeyes at -175 moneyline favorites. The spread line is a close one as well at -3.5 points. Iowa’s offense hasn’t just been bad, it’s been one of the worst in the countries this year. QB Spencer Petras has only thrown for two TDs this season. What’s been able to keep them in games and winning has been the defense that has kept them close forcing turnovers. Illinois proved themselves during noncon games that their offense was high powered, but it was their big win at Wisconsin that has put many people on notice. QB Tommy Devito has already put up nine TDs this season and RB Chase Brown has been able to go for four TDs to make for an explosive backfield combo for the Illini.
The over/under is currently placed at 36.5 points and might seem low, but this could be a good number the total could fall too. It will be very interesting to see how the high-powered Illini offense goes up against the stout Iowa defense.
Iowa Vs. Illinois Prediction
My Pick: Iowa ML (+140)
All the experts are riding with Illinois in this game and think that the momentum that they had last week will fly into this game with Iowa. I think this is a trap game for Illinois though, and that the Hawkeyes and their defense will be able to stop the offense in its tracks. I’m not sure how the Iowa offense will play but I don’t think it’ll matter as long as they are able to keep Illinois off the scoreboard.
Iowa’s offense has started off as slow as anyone in the country and they have still been able to get three wins. As long as Spencer Petras can manage the game and get some points on the board, I count on the defense to get turnovers and possibly points as well. Two of their touchdowns in their win against Rutgers came from a pick-6 and a fumble return for a touchdown. Illinois is getting a lot of praise but they haven’t really had the toughest schedule. They beat three subpar non conference teams but they are also 1-1 in the Big Ten, losing to a struggling Indiana team and winning against a Wisconsin team that is nowhere near as good as they were expected to be. I think Iowa’s ability to keep the Michigan game within 13 points says a lot considering how good No.4 Michigan is.
I like the Under in this game too as I think this will be a low scoring game where defense will prevail. That depends if Iowa’s defense truly can slow down Illinois but I believe they can. For how struggling their offense is, their defense is that much better.
Iowa vs Illinois Key Matchups
Will Tommy Devito be able to get this Illinois offense rolling against a stout Iowa defense? Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Iowa vs Illinois below.
Tommy Devito Vs. Iowa Defense
The biggest matchup will be that of Tommy Devito and the Illini offense against the Hawkeye defense. Tommy Devito has gone for only two INTs along with his nine TDs. That could change though as he faces his best defense to date. Iowa’s defense has already collected five INTs and two fumbles recovered. They have also forced four fumbles as well as getting 13 sacks already. If they can get turnovers and score off turnovers as they have returned two turnovers for touchdowns, it could be a long day for Tommy Devito.
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