Illinois -8.5 & the 'Under' Against Purdue in Big Ten Action

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, October 2, 2014 4:48 PM UTC

Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 4:48 PM UTC

Can't say that back in August I expected to be previewing a Purdue-Illinois game, arguably the Big Ten's two worst programs right now. But here we are for Saturday's matchup. The Illini are 10-point favorites on 5Dimes college football odds with a total of 58.

Hazell's Time Running Out?
One has to wonder if Purdue coach Darrell Hazell regrets leaving Kent State after the 2012 season for this job. The program is just a wreck right now. Last year the Boilers went 1-11, and they enter this one at 2-3. It's probably their last best chance for a victory in 2014. This is the ninth time in 10 conference games under Hazell that Purdue has opened as a double-digit underdog. The school's two wins this year are against directional schools: Western Michigan and Southern Illinois. Each of their three losses -- Central Michigan, Notre Dame and Iowa -- has been by at least 14 points on college football odds

Last week Purdue was tied 10-10 at the half with Iowa but was shut out after intermission. The Boilermakers struggled in the third quarter again and have scored a total of three points in that quarter in the past four games. Quarterback Danny Etling was terrible against the Hawkeyes, completing 11 of 26 for 61 yards and a touchdown. His hold on the job is tenuous. In fact, Hazell hasn't named Etling or Austin Appleby as his starting QB as of this writing. Appleby replaced Etling in the fourth quarter last week, completing 2 of 6 passes for 11 yards and one interception.. Purdue had 156 total yards and nine first downs against Iowa. In addition, center Robert Kugler, the team's best guy up front, suffered an injury in the game and is questionable for Illinois.

Starting running back Raheem Mostert didn't play in the loss to Iowa. That wasn't due to injury but because of fumbling problems in the team's previous game. Hazell said Mostert will be involved more against Illinois. He leads the team with 67 carries for 293 yards.


Beckman's Time Running Out?
The seat of Illinois coach Tim Beckman is nearly as warm as Hazell's. Beckman also arrived from a Mid-American School: Toledo. He is in his third season with Illinois and is 9-20. Illinois is 3-2 this season, which sounds like improvement. However, the wins are against non-Power 5 teams Youngstown State, Western Kentucky and Texas State, none of the victories convincingly. Illinois has been blown out at Washington and last week at Nebraska.

Illini starting QB Wes Lunt missed the Huskers' game with a knee sprain, a somewhat surprising late scratch. He warmed up in full pads, but the team chose to keep him on the sideline. Reilly O'Toole started and struggled, going 17 of 38 for 261 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions while being sacked four times. Lunt, the Oklahoma State transfer, is expected to return for this one. The Illini are a pass-heavy team, ranking 24th nationally in passing yards and 114th in rushing. Lunt leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game at 309.3 and has 11 touchdown throws.

Maybe the Illinois defense is exactly what the struggling Purdue offense needs. Illinois gave 624 total yards to Nebraska and ranks 104th in the nation in scoring defense at 35.0 points per game. It is ranked last in the Big Ten in total and rushing defense.

Illinois will have a celebration of its 125th year of football during Saturday's game with several former players in attendance. You know the school saved this celebration for a game the Illini actually can win. This is easily their last best chance for a victory this year as well.


Last Season
Illinois' only conference win of 2013 was a 20-16 victory at Purdue. That ended the Illini's 20-game conference losing streak. Lunt wasn't around then for Illinois. Etling was 20 of 29 for 163 yards with a TD and a pick for Purdue, which brings a nine-game Big Ten skid into this one. Illinois leads the overall series 43-40-6. However, Purdue has won two of the last three meetings and seven of the last nine. It has won three of the past four at Illinois.


Free College Football Picks
As long as Lunt plays, give the points here for your college football picks. Go 'under' regardless. Purdue is terrible offensively, while the Illini can score a bit with Lunt under center. The Boilers have covered just one of their past six Big Ten games. The home team is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The 'under' is 4-1 in the past five.

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