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No. 17 Illinois vs. Nebraska picks and best bets for Week 9 Big Ten matchup

The Illini and Cornhuskers meet as two programs going in opposite directions.

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

College football is a wild sport. At the start of the season, you might’ve thought the Nebraska Cornhuskers would have a new head coach by Week 9, but you almost assuredly didn’t think the Illinois Fighting Illini would be leading the charge in the Big Ten West. They get together this weekend at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln at 3:30 p.m.

Well, they are and it doesn’t seem like much of a fluke either in Brett Bielema's second season in charge in Champagne. They have one of the best running backs in the nation in Chase Brown and have the best defense in the nation in terms of points allowed (just 6.8 per game). Nebraska fired their coach for a reason and currently sit at 3-4 on the season, with two of those wins coming since Mickey Joseph took over for Scott Frost.

Here’s all the data you’ll want, and a pick for the game!

SP+ Rankings

Illinois: 30 overall, 90 offense, 2 defense
Nebraska: 65 overall, 61 offense, 58 defense

Injury update


LB Nick Henrich - Out (leg)
OG Kevin Williams Jr.- Questionable (ankle)
WR Omar Manning- Questionable (foot)


RB Josh McCray- probable (knee)
QB John Doe - Questionable (arm)


Against The Spread

Nebraska: 2-5 ATS
Illinois: 5-2 ATS


Nebraska: Over 3-4
Illinois: Over 2-4-1

Returning/Overall Talent from 247Sports

Nebraska: 94 overall, 92 offense, 89 defense
Illinois: 51 overall, 58 offense, 56 defense

Current lines at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Illinois -7.5
Total: 50.5
Moneyline: Illinois -295, Nebraska +245

Opening line: Illinois -7
Opening total: 51.5


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The Pick

Under 50.5

The Illinois moneyline makes a lot of sense too, but the under is probably the safest bet. The Nebraska offense hasn’t been great this season and the Illini defense has been, shockingly, one of the elite units in the nation. Illinois might rack up 30 points, but their run-heavy offense will control the game and the Illinois D won’t give up much to the reeling Huskers.