College Football Picks: Trust in Illinois (+16) to be Competitive vs. Ohio State at Home

Steven Suarez

Friday, November 13, 2015 12:58 AM UTC

Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 12:58 AM UTC

Though they haven't been entirely convincing along the way, the Buckeyes remain undefeated ahead of this weekend's road game against Illinois. How should we approach this game with our college football picks?

Odds Overview
The Fighting Illini may be the home team on this occasion, but they're not being given much of a chance at all of staying close with Ohio State. Current college football odds show Ohio State favored by either 15.5 or 16 points, depending on where you look. The total meanwhile is trading at 55 points.

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Illinois Fighting Illini
A win was much-needed for the Fighting Illini last week, as they entered a road game against Purdue having lost three in a row. Well, they got exactly what they were hoping for in a dominant 48-14 victory, and Illinois had little trouble covering the spread as favorites for those that backed them.

As you can see, the Fighting Illini had little trouble offensively, with both the passing and running game getting the job done. Wes Lunt threw for three touchdowns, with Desmond Cain, Josh Ferguson and Malik Turner all finding the end zone. The rushing attack piled up 382 yards and three scores on 41 total attempts, as Ke'Shawn Vaughn (16 carries for 180 yards and two scores) and Ferguson (12 carries for 133 yards) both sliced through the weak Boilermakers D.

It was the perfect timing for Illinois to get back on track ahead of this showdown with Ohio State. Lunt, Vaughn, Ferguson and Geronimo Allison are all going to have to contribute this weekend if the Fighting Illini are to be competitive, and we're particularly curious to see if Allison can make his presence felt, considering the Buckeyes have had some trouble containing number one wideouts this season.


Ohio State Buckeyes
Well, it hasn't been all that pretty at times, but the Buckeyes have still done enough to remain undefeated with only a few games left in the regular season. They're 5-0 in conference play and 9-0 overall, and they're ranked #1 in the Coaches poll and #2 in the AP poll.

J.T. Barrett, who recently reclaimed the starting quarterback spot, was suspended for last week's game, but Ohio State was still able to hold on for a 28-14 win at home over Minnesota. The schedule is about to get a lot tougher as the season winds down though, as the Buckeyes will close out with a home game against Michigan State before taking on Michigan in Ann Arbor. Those two matchups will show us just how good Ohio State really is.

Does that mean the Buckeyes might look ahead and therefore lay a dud against Illinois? Stranger things have happened, but oddsmakers clearly have a lot of faith in the favorites to take care of business. The production is likely mostly to come from running back Ezekiel Elliott, who has been one of the better backs in the country again this season.


Betting Analysis
We do expect the Buckeyes to be more productive with Barrett as the starting quarterback, but overall it's hard to be overwhelmingly impressed with how Ohio State's been playing. That may sound weird considering the Buckeyes have yet to lose a game, but they've benefited from a cupcake schedule so far, and they've been pushed to the limits a number of times already.

Illinois may not be the most talented team out there, but we think they'll be up for the challenge this weekend, and that they'll be able to at least keep this game competitive enough to cover the big number in front of their own fans.

So, as we finalize our college football picks for Saturday, we're going to roll with the home underdogs with our college football picks and hope for them to bring their best effort and avoid a beatdown at the hands of the #3 team in the country.

College Football Picks: Illinois Fighting Illini +16 at 5Dimes

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