Illinois at Wisconsin: 10/23/20 College Football Picks and Prediction
Photo by Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Wisconsin Badgers (0-0) vs Illinois Fighting Illini (0-0)
Game Info: Friday, October 23, 2020 at 8:00 pm (Camp Randall Stadium)
Betting Odds: Wisconsin Badgers -20.5 -- Over/Under: 51.5 Click Here for the Latest Odds
Where to Watch: Big Ten Network Stream live sports and exclusive originals on ESPN+. Sign up now!
The Illinois Fighting Illini will travel to Camp Randall Stadium to take on the 14th ranked Wisconsin Badgers this Friday night in College Football action.
The Illinois Fighting Illini finished their 2019 season with an overall record of 6-7, however, had a respectable 4-5 record in a very tough Big Ten conference. Illinois struggled at the start of conference play last season, losing their first three conference games, however, the Fighting Illini recovered from the slow start a went on a 4-game winning streak which included a 24-23 upset at home agianst the 6th ranked Wisconsin Badgers. Illinois was able to be invited to a Bowl game with their six regular season wins, however, could not end the season on a winning note after falling to the California Golden Bears, 35-20, in the RedBox Bowl.
Offensively, Illinois had trouble piling up yards on the offensive end as they averaged just 329.5 total yards per game (185.3 passing yds/g; 144.2 rushing yds/g), however, the Fighting Illini did average a respectable 26.7 ppg. Illinois will return Brandon Peters who completed 55.3% of his passes for 1884 yards (171.3 passing yds/g), 18 TD, & 8 INT. The top three receiving targets for the Fighting Illini return in Josh Imatorbhebhe (33 rec, 634 yards, 9 TD), Donny Navarro (27 rec, 345 yards, 2 TD), and Daniel Barker (18 rec, 273 yards, 4 TD). The Illinois backfield has some question marks as their two top RB’s (Reggie Corbin & Dee Brown) are gone and Ra’Von Bonner has decided to opt out of the season. The Fighting Illini will hope that Mike Epstein and newcomer Reggie Love can provide production in the backfield.
Defensively, Illinois allowed opponents to average 26.2 ppg on 408.5 total yards per game (212.9 passing yds/g; 195.5 rushing yds/g). Leading the way for the Fighting Illini defense this season will be LB Jake Hansen.
The 16th ranked Wisconsin Badgers finished last season with an overall record of 10-4 while finishing Big Ten play with a 7-2 record. Wisconsin started the season winning six straight, however, their chances for the National Championship were lost midway through the season with back-to-back losses to Illinois & Ohio State. Wisconsin did make it to the Big Ten Championship but fell to the Ohio State Buckeyes and ended the season with a 28-27 loss to the Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl.
Offensively, Wisconsin finished last season averaging 34.1 ppg on 433.2 total yards per game (200.1 passing yds/g; 233.1 rushing yds/g). Wisconsin lost some talent on the offense line along with RB Jonathan Taylor, however, the offense should once again have one of the better rushing attacks behind Nakia Watson (74 att, 337 yards, 2 TD) and newcomer Jalen Berger. QB Jack Coan returns after finishing last season after completing 69.6% of his passes for 2,727 (194.8 passing yds/g), 18 TD & 5 INT. The Badgers will no longer have Quintez Cephus at WR, but do return Jake Ferguson (33 rec, 407 yards, 2 TD), Garrett Groshek (29 rec, 289), and Kendric Pryor (23 rec, 278 yards).
Defensively, Wisconsin held opponents to just 16.9 ppg on 287.1 total yards per game (187.4 passing yds/g; 99.8 rushing yds/g). Leading the way for the Badgers defense will be LB Jack Sanborn & DE Isaiahh Loudermilk.
The Fighting Illini 3-1 ATS in their last 4 road games, however, 2-3 ATS in their last 5 games against Wisconsin. The Badgers are 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games and 3-2 ATS in their last 5 home games.
Wisconsin is always a strong team with a good running game and an offense that generate can dominate the time of possession, however, this is an Illinois team that made some major strides last season under Lovie Smith which included an upset win against the Badgers. Illinois returns some key playmakers on the offensive end and as we’re not sure what to fully expect from a Badgers offense that lost Jonathan Taylor, I think the play here is to take Illinois and the large amount of points. Good Luck!