Penn State vs Illinois – NCAAF Game Pick for September 21st

by Rick Rockwell
on September 18, 2018

Minute Read

Betting Data Penn State Nittany Lions Illinois Fighting Illini
Current S/U record 3-0 2-1
2018 ATS 2-1 2-1
2018 ATS Home 1-1 2-1
2018 ATS Away 1-0 0-0
2018 O/U 3-0 0-2
2018 O/U Home 2-0 0-2
2018 O/U Away 1-0 0-0

Penn State Nittany Lions vs Illinois Fighting Illini Game Preview

Friday’s matchup will be the 24th time these two schools have played against each other. The Nittany Lions hold the all-time advantage with an 18-5 record. The last time they battled on the gridiron was in 2015 and PSU won 39-0. However, the last time PSU played at Illinois, the Fighting Illini won 16-14. Since 2000, PSU has posted a 10-4 record against Illinois. However, PSU has gone 3-3 on the road during that span.

Penn State (3-0) is heading to Champaign, Illinois for the first time in 4 years and they will take on an improved Fighting Illini football team. Additionally, this is the first Friday game for PSU since 1982 when they played on the Friday after Thanksgiving. PSU brings in a high powered offense that appears to be warming up and learning how to play together with all of the new pieces. Will they continue their high scoring on the road this Friday?

Illinois (2-1) is coming off a tough loss to South Florida last weekend where they gave up a 4th quarter lead. Otherwise, this team could’ve been 3-0. However, even with a loss, they’re still playing with a lot of confidence and have shown significant improvement over the last few years. Can Illinois pull off a huge upset in the Big 10 just like BYU did to Wisconsin last weekend?

The spread opened with PSU favored by 27. It bounced around until settling at 28 points. The Over/Under opened at 60 total points and remains unchanged.

Free NCAAF Spread Bet and Big Ten Game Prediction: Penn State -28

PSU might not have the best record on Fridays (14-9-1), but that record was accumulated before any of these current players were born. This PSU team is a lot better and more explosive, which is evident by their last 2 games where they outscored their opponents 114-16. Furthermore, they outscored those two opponents 72-0 in the second half.

Last weekend, PSU blew out Kent 63-10. Illinois also played Kent this season and won 31-24. That’s one potential indicator as to what could happen this Friday.

Coming into this matchup, PSU is averaging 53 ppg while Illinois is allowing 21 ppg. However, the Fighting Illini have not faced an offense like this or a QB like Trace McSorley. The PSU leader has 603 passing yards, 5 TD throws and 1 interception. He’s also doing it on the ground with 143 yards and 6 rushing TDs. McSorley is a dual threat that Illinois will have to keep an eye on all game long.

The Fighting Illini defense gives up 480 total ypg with 325.3 ypg coming through the air. That means McSorley will have the potential for a big passing game this weekend. That also means wide receiver KJ Hamler could also have a big game. He currently leads the PSU receivers with 129 yards and 2 TDs.

For Illinois, they do most of their offensive damage on the ground as they average 243 rushing ypg and 28 ppg. PSU only allows 148.3 ypg, so this will be a huge battle to watch. PSU will try to take away Illinois’ running game and force MJ Rivers to beat them through the air.

As mentioned above, PSU has outscored their last 2 opponents 72-0 in the second half of the games. Illinois has been outscored 25-23 during the second halves of the last 2 games. Penn State never takes its foot off the gas pedal and this is something Illinois will have to deal with for 4 quarters.

Illinois is 6-12 ATS in their last 18 overall games, 2-11 SU in their last 13, 6-14 ATS in their last 20 home games, and 2-6 ATS in their last 8 against PSU at home. Illinois is also 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games played during September, 4-5 ATS and 0-9 SU in their last 9 games against teams with a winning record, and 9-12 ATS in their last 21 games when an underdog of 21.5 to 31 points.

Penn State is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 overall games, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games, 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games as a road favorite, 13-6 ATS in their last 19 Big Ten games, 16-1 ATS in their last 17 games following 2 or more SU wins, and 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games against teams with a winning record.

I like Illinois to keep it close in the first half before PSU pulls away in the second half to win by 30+ points. Look for McSorley to have a monster game this Friday and for the PSU defense to shut down Illinois’ rushing attack. Penn State wins 52 to 20 on the road in their Big 10 opener.

Penn State vs Illinois Betting Recap:

  • Oddsmaker: BetOnline, 5Dimes
  • Money lines: Penn State (-7500) vs Illinois (+3250)
  • Spread: Penn State -28 (-120)
  • Over/Under: 60 total points (-110)
  • Prediction: Penn State 52 – Illinois 20
Pick: Penn State -28

$100 stake could win...

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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