Illinois Could Be Trap Game Friday for No. 10 Penn State

Monday, September 17, 2018 1:13 PM UTC

Monday, Sep. 17, 2018 1:13 PM UTC

Illinois shouldn’t be any trouble for No. 10 Penn State in Big Ten action on Friday night … unless the Nittany Lions are peeking ahead to next week.

<p style="text-align:right"><em><strong>Matthew's 2018 NCAAF ATS Record: 5-3</strong></em></p><h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="" rel="nofollow">No. 10 Penn State (3-0, 2-1 ATS) at Illinois (2-1, 2-1 ATS)</a></h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Friday, 9 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Free NCAAF Pick: Illini +28.5 Alternate Spread</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Best Line Offered: <a href=";book=GT Bets" rel="nofollow">GT Bets</a></h2><p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3448219, "sportsbooksIds":[1602,43,93,999996,180], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]</p><p>It’s a fairly new thing in the Big Ten where the conference plays one game on a handful of Friday nights each season, and this week that’s the case as No. 10 <a href="" rel="nofollow">Penn State opens its conference slate by visiting Illinois. </a>This game was originally to be played on Saturday but moved for TV reasons. Penn State is so opposed to playing Friday nights (high school football is huge in Pennsylvania on Fridays) that it has refused to host a game on the night.</p><p>Penn State is 18-5 all-time against Illinois but did lost in its last trip to Champaign in 2014. The schools haven’t played since Halloween 2015 as they are in opposite Big Ten divisions. PSU somewhat got jobbed this year as it has to play probably the two best West Division teams in Wisconsin and Iowa. The Illini, meanwhile, avoid Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State from the East, which could help the school reach a bowl game for the first time since 2014.</p><p>Some believe that head coach Lovie Smith is on the hot seat this year with his 7-20 mark at the school. Of course, he had success in the NFL as Bears head coach.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;Hi, my name is Trace McSorley and I hit dingers. &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;September 15, 2018&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><h2>McSorley Making Heisman Case</h2><p>Penn State hasn’t missed star running back Saquon Barkley, now a Giants rookie, much yet this year as the Lions are averaging 53.0 points per game and have scored more in each one. They hung 63 on Kent State this past Saturday in a 53-point rout. Trace McSorley was spectacular in that one with two TD throws and three scoring runs.</p><p>In doing so, the senior Heisman candidate became the school’s career leader in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (24) and just the second Penn State signal-caller (Michael Robinson) to hit 1,000 career yards. He also extended his FBS-best and school-record streak of consecutive games with a passing touchdown to 31. McSorley has thrown for 603 yards and five scores this year while rushing 26 times for 143 yards and six TDs. Miles Sanders has been the primary replacement for Barkley, carrying 49 times for 295 yards and two scores.</p><p>Illinois suffered its first loss Saturday, blowing a 19-7 fourth-quarter lead and falling to South Florida 25-19 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Illini had one last shot from the USF 25-yard line but freshman quarterback M.J. Rivers threw the ball out of the end zone as time expired. Rivers made his first career start as A.J. Bush Jr. was sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered the week prior vs. Western Illinois. Not clear as of this writing if Bush will play here.</p><p>Smith’s team is thin at receiver these days because both Edwin Carter and Mike Dudek have been lost for the year. Dudek was a terrific player as a freshman way back in 2014 but just hasn’t been able to stay healthy since. Carter had two catches for 34 yards and two scores before going down vs. Western Illinois.</p><ul> <li>Underdog is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 meetings.</li> <li>Illini 2-0 ATS in past 2 as at least a 27-point home dog.</li></ul><p>Penn State is clearly the better team, but I believe this is a hugely dangerous game for the Nittany Lions because they host No. 4 Ohio State next Saturday. Human nature for some of the key guys to perhaps overlook the Illini with that on the horizon. Take the points for a <a href="" rel="nofollow">Friday NCAAF pick.</a></p>
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