Illinois vs. Penn State - 9/21/18 College Football Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Penn State Nittany Lions (3-0) at Illinois Fighting Illini (2-1)
College Football: Friday, September 21, 2018 at 9:00 pm (Memorial Stadium-Champaign)
The Line: Illinois Fighting Illini +26.5 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds
The Penn State Nittany Lions and Illinois Fighting Illini meet Friday in college football action at Memorial Stadium.
The Penn State Nittany Lions look for their second road victory of the season to start 4-0 for the third time in the last five years. The Penn State Nittany Lions have won seven of their last nine road games. Trace McSorley is completing 51.7 percent of his passes for 603 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. McSorley has two or more touchdown passes in eight of his last nine games. KJ Hamler and Brandon Polk have combined for 248 receiving yards and four touchdowns while DeAndre Thompkins has four receptions. The Penn State Nittany Lions ground game is averaging 237.6 yards per contest, and Miles Sanders leads the way with 295 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Penn State is allowing 18 points and 324 yards per game. Jan Johnson leads the Penn State Nittany Lions with 18 tackles, Shareef Miller has three sacks and Amani Oruwariye has two interceptions.
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The Illinois Fighting Illini look to remain unbeaten at home to keep pace in the Big Ten West. The Illinois Fighting Illini have lost five of their last seven home games. AJ Bush Jr. is completing 60 percent of his passes for 223 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Bush and M.J. Rivers II have combined for two touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Ricky Smalling and Sam Mays have combined for 212 receiving yards on 16 receptions while Mike Dudek has four receptions. The Illinois Fighting Illini ground game is averaging 243 yards per contest, and Mike Epstein leads the way with 251 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Illinois is allowing 21 points and 480 yards per game. Jake Hansen leads the Illinois Fighting Illini with 26 tackles, Isaiah Gay has one sack and Del'Shawn Phillips has two interceptions.
The Nittany Lions are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 road games, 13-4-1 ATS in their last 18 conference games and 19-5-2 ATS in their last 26 games overall. The Fighting Illini are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games on fieldturf, 10-23 ATS in their last 33 games following a ATS win and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Friday games. The Nittany Lions are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 meetings in Illinois, 3-7 ATS in their last 10 meetings and the road team is 10-3 ATS in their last 13 meetings.
The Penn State Nittany Lions have beaten the hell out of their last two opponents after a near loss opening week. However, this does feel like a trap game for PSU with a monster Big Ten clash against Ohio State on deck. The Illinois Fighting Illini are off to one of their best starts in years and would be 3-0 SU if it weren't for a big fourth quarter comeback against USF. The Illinois Fighting Illini have covered six of their last nine games when an underdog of at least 20 points. Illinois has to be feeling itself a bit with the way this season has started, and weekeday games have a history of being kind to home underdogs. I expect a big crowd and for the Fighting Illini to make a game of this thing. I'm taking a stab with the points here, as Illinois is playing its best football in years and Penn State is in a serious look ahead spot.