Last year, the Fresno State Bulldogs and Illinois Fighting Illini engaged in a classic NCAA football betting affair which resulted in a 53-52 triumph for the visiting Dogs. The pressure is off for both teams, as this is merely a prep game for a bowl game. However, both are looking to boost their resumes to give themselves a more lucrative trip this December or January.

Running Backs the Key to Victory

There haven't been many meetings this year of 1,000-yard running backs, but on Friday night, we get to see two of the best at their trades.

Illinois' RB Mikel LeShoure has already rumbled for 1,380 yards and 13 TDs this year, and he is coming off of the game of his life against the Northwestern Wildcats. LeShoure ripped off 330 yards on the ground with two TDs at Wrigley Field to lead the way for the Illini, and he now has three straight games with at least 120 yards under his belt. LeShoure has also scored on the ground nine times in his last four overall.

For Fresno State, RB Robbie Rouse is a bit more hit and miss than LeShoure is, but when he hits, Rouse is a monster. Rouse had back to back games of at least 215 yards to start the month of November, doing the deed against both the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and Nevada Wolf Pack. He already has 1,097 yards and 10 scores on the campaign, but he is dealing with a rib injury suffered last week that might keep him out of action.

Last season when these teams met, Illinois ran for 331 yards behind 184 yards for LeShoure, while Fresno State ran for 233 yards.

Sloppy 'D' Leaves Question Marks for Both Sides

The Illini went their first eight games of the season without letting a team score more than 26 points against them, including games against three Top 15 opponents. However, in three games against Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, and Northwestern Wildcats, Illinois conceded 27 or more points and averaged a whopping 44.0 PPG against.

Things haven't been much better for the Bulldogs either. When they lose, they certainly know how to do it. In four losses this year, Fresno State has allowed 55, 49, 35, and 51 points respectively, an average of 47.5 PPG. In seven wins, that scoring average is just 19.6 PPG. It is fairly clear that one of the WAC's best teams badly needs to make some sense out of its defense to have any hope of stopping the Illini in this one on Friday night.

NCAA Football Odds in Favor of Illini

Illinois might only be 7-15 ATS in its last 22 games played on grass, but it has covered the college football betting lines in seven of its last eight overall.

The Bulldogs are in bad shape at home, going just 6-22-1 to destroy NCAA football bettors. They are familiar with playing on Friday night football as well, but they are just 5-16 ATS in their last 21 when playing on the eve of the weekend.

The Final Verdict

We have to go with the Illini in this one. They have had two weeks to prepare for this showdown, and you can bet that Head Coach Ron Zook has been preaching to his men about getting payback for last year's defeat to end the regular season.

Illinois wants to hit the ground running for its bowl preparations, and the best way to do that is by going all the way to the West Coast and taking care of Fresno State. Too much LeShoure. Back the Illini at minus six with the sportsbooks.