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How and what to watch for #24 Iowa vs. Illinois

The Hawkeyes narrowly escaped an embarrassing loss to Nebraska last week and the Illini rolled in their last outing

Quarterback Spencer Petras of the Iowa Hawkeyes throws a pass during the first half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Kinnick Stadium on November 27, 2020 in Iowa City, Iowa. Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

This week the 4-2 Iowa Hawkeyes hit the road to take on a Big Ten West foe who are trying to extend a two game winning streak, the 2-3 Illinois Fighting Illini.

The fighting Lovie Smiths have seen a bit of a resurgence in recent weeks, running for a combined 623 yards and six touchdowns against Nebraska and Rutgers. They want to keep that momentum going, but this Iowa defense is not the Huskers or Scarlett Knights. Iowa has one of the strongest defenses in the nation, particularly against the run. Kirk Ferentz’s crew is ranked 1 in the country in limiting runs of 12 yards or more and are also the 20th best at keeping teams behind the sticks.

The explosiveness Illinois has found on the ground in recent weeks is really all they have going for them. The defense is ranked near the bottom of every statistical category, and the Hawkeyes should exploit that, as it has a solid ground attack, ranked 14th in the nation in staying on schedule. The Illini give up close to 200 yards per game on the ground and have allowed nine rushing scores in just five games.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

You can watch Iowa vs. Illinois on Saturday, December 5th at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1, or you can stream it via the Fox Sports Go app with a cable or streaming service login.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: Iowa (-12.5) vs. Illinois
Point Total: 50.5
Money line: Iowa (-560) vs. Illinois (+390)

  • As one would expect with a defense and rushing attack as good as Iowa’s, the under has his in 12 of their last 18 games
  • The Hawkeyes usually cover against Illinois, going 4-2 ATS in the last six meetings
  • The Illini have hated playing Iowa recently, going 1-5 straight up against them at home.

Betting splits

Iowa: (54% of handle, 70% percent of bets)
Illinois: (46% of handle, 30% percent of bets)

The Best Bet

The best bet in this one is the under. Iowa’s passing attack isn’t going to do anything special against any defense. Even though the Hawkeyes have a good ground game, they’re not very explosive. Illinois will struggle to get anything done on offense against the big boys in black and yellow.

Pick: Under 50.5

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