College Football Betting Preview - Illinois vs Rutgers

Fighting Illini PLayers & Coach

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 4:43 PM GMT

Big Ten bottom dwellers Illinois and Rutgers clash at High Point Solutions Stadium on Saturday. Is there value to betting the game? Always. Pick and preview here.

Illinois Fighting Illini (1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS)

Illinois dropped a heartbreaker to Purdue last week 34-31 in overtime. It was the Boilermakers' third win in their last 26 Big Ten games. Illini quarterback Wes Lunt was knocked out in the second quarter, apparently with a back injury.

The opening line for the Rutgers matchup was delayed with Lunt's status unknown, but hit the board Monday at -2.5 in favor of the Illini. Chayce Crouch, a dual-threat option who rumbled for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground as his replacement on Saturday, proved he could handle the load when required.

Head coach Lovie Smith's men can move the ball efficiently, accruing 5.6 yards per play. But it hurts any gains with a slew of penalties. The team's 9.8 penalties per game rank second to last in the country.

Illinois' best defensive lineman, end Carroll Phillips, will sit out the first half for receiving a game ejection due a targeting penalty on Purdue quarterback David Blough. Phillips leads the nation in tackles for a loss with 2.2 per game.

Illinois is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 as road chalk.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-4 SU, 2-4 ATS)

Rutgers has faced one of the toughest schedules in college football, losing to three top-5 programs by a combined score of 184-13: No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Washington, and No. 2 Ohio State. It failed to cover the spread by a total of 75 points overall as well. It's 78-0 loss to the Wolverines last Saturday was the biggest defeat in a game against two FBS teams in over a century.

Rutgers has scored more than its projected total one time this season, averaging 5.6 points below the number on average. Its 11.4 points and 238.4 yards per game rank last in the FBS. Head coach Chris Ash rolls out a power spread offense, and the unit has struggled to maintain blocking assignments and find space downfield against superior talent.

Quarterback issues have also plagued the Scarlet Knights. Chris Laviano, who has tossed for 686 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions on 63 of 133 passes, has been benched in every game but the opener. His completion percentages are south of 50 percent. None of the backups have impressed, so expect more Laviano against the Illini.

Rutgers is just 7-17 SU and 8-16 ATS as a home dog of fewer than 4 points in its last 24 attempts.

Final Analysis

Rutgers circled this game on the calendar before the season started as a win, making it the school's homecoming. But it's hard to support any team coming off two shutouts, no matter who their last opponents. Lovie's men should prove the better side on the ball, but the mistakes will have to be erased to win in what should be a competitive ball game. Illinois -6 is my college football pick.

Remember to drop by SBR's list of the best-ranked bonuses, and find out which of the top sportsbooks is offering the top rated sportsbooks.

SBR record YTD: 134-96-6 (-105 avg. odds); NCAAF (2016-17): 17-17 (avg. odds -109)

Free College Football Pick: Illinois -3

Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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