Ohio State vs Illinois

No. 4 Ohio State vs Illinois Preview | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Written by on November 27, 2020

Unbeaten Ohio State was expected to be No. 2 or No. 3 in the first College Football Rankings Top 25, but the Buckeyes came in at fourth. Doesn’t much matter, though, as long as OSU wins out. The Nuts are big favorites Saturday at a bad Illinois team. There’s a chance this could be canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the Buckeyes.

How to Bet Ohio State at Illinois NCAA Football Odds & TV Info

  • When: Saturday, noon ET
  • Where: Memorial Stadium
  • TV: Fox Sports 1
  • Stream: Fox Sports Go
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAF Lines: OSU -28 (total 71.5)

Last Meeting

The teams are in different Big Ten divisions and don’t play annually. They last did in 2017 when the Buckeyes rolled 52-14 at home. Ohio State and Illinois will be meeting for the 104th time and for the first time since 2017. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series, which dates back to 1902, 68-30-4.

The Buckeyes and Illini will be playing for the Illibuck Trophy. The Illibuck is a carved wooden turtle that has been awarded to the winner of the Ohio State/Illinois game since 1925 and is the second oldest trophy exchanged in the Big Ten.

Why Bet on Ohio State? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Several Big Ten programs have been up front with their COVID-19 testing results and released them to the public. Ohio State has not disclosed any testing numbers throughout the pandemic, citing an attempt to avoid identification of individuals who test positive. However, there have been reports of a handful of players testing positive this week.

OSU players receive daily rapid antigen tests for COVID-19. If they test positive, they also take a polymerase chain reaction test to confirm the initial result. The only public positive test came on Halloween when senior linebacker Justin Hilliard first tested positive from the rapid test but was cleared by the PCR test.

Ohio State’s run defense will be tested by the conference’s No. 2-ranked rushing offense in Illinois. The Illini are averaging 222.4 yards per game and eight of their 11 offensive touchdowns have come on the ground. The Buckeyes have the Big Ten’s top rushing offense at 233.2 yards per game. Master Teague’s 380 yards is third highest in the conference and he’s tied for second with six rushing touchdowns.

Wideout Garrett Wilson is off to the best four-game start ever at Ohio State with four straight 100-yard games – the second longest streak in school history. Cris Carter had five in a row in 1986. His average of 128.3 yards per game is second in the Big Ten and No. 7 nationally. That’s nearly 10 yards better than David Boston’s single-season record for receiving yards per game, which was set in 1998 (119.5).

QB and Heisman candidate Justin Fields is fourth nationally in quarterback efficiency (202.10). Fields is completing 79 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

The Buckeyes have won eight straight against Illinois. Saturday will be the 12th time in the last 17 years that the teams have played.

Why Bet on Illinois? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

The Illini (2-3) did play last week and won 41-23 at Nebraska in an upset. The defense showed up once again for the Illini, forcing five turnovers in the win. The Illini victory marked the first in Lincoln since 1924.

Illinois ran for 285 yards in the win while scoring four touchdowns on the ground. Illini running backs Mike Epstein and Chase Brown both surpassed 100 yards rushing for the second consecutive week. Epstein tied his career high, rushing for 113 yards and a touchdown. That marked his fourth consecutive game with a score. Brown had another big day for the Illini, rushing for over 100 yards for the second straight week and also adding two touchdowns, both in the first quarter.

Illinois leads the Big Ten in rushing yards (1,112) and ranks second in rushing yards per game (222.4), behind only Ohio State (233.3). Illinois has had multiple 100-yard rushers in back-to-back Big Ten games for the first time since at least 1945 when complete records began.

Starting quarterback Brandon Peters played in his first game since October 23 at Wisconsin. Peters was sidelined for three weeks following positive test results on October 29 for the COVID-19 virus. The senior completed 18 of 25 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown. He also added 36 yards and a touchdown on the ground. In Peters’ two seasons at Illinois, the Illini are 7-5 when Peters starts and finishes the game and 1-5 when he does not.

Senior linebacker Jake Hansen is one of only three players in the nation with multiple interceptions, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries in 2020 (LB Mikel Jones, Syracuse; DB Richie Grant, UCF).

Game Trends
  • Buckeyes are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road games.
  • Buckeyes are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games as a favorite.
  • Fighting Illini are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 conference games.
  • Fighting Illini are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games in November.
  • Fighting Illini are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games as an underdog.
  • Over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings.

Expert College Football Prediction

Ohio State 48, Illinois 18


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