Northwestern vs Illinois prediction and game preview.
Northwestern vs Illinois Broadcast
Date: Saturday, December 12
Game Time: 12:00 ET
Venue: Ryan Field, Evanston, IL
Northwestern (5-1) vs Illinois (2-4) Game Preview
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Why Illinois Will Win
Everything collapsed, but the Illini showed off a good first 20 minutes last week against Iowa, coming off a strong two games with wins over Rutgers and Nebraska on the road.
The Illini found a strong running game before last week, here hasn’t been a problem with turnovers, and the pass rush has been disruptive enough to be steadily productive.
Now they get to play a team that’s more than happy to keep games slow and low-scoring.
Northwestern is off to the Big Ten Championship next week to face Ohio State, and to have any shot it needs to find more of an offense – fast.
The Wildcats haven’t hit the 100-yard rushing mark in any of the last three games, the passing game isn’t quite picking up the slack, and the they can’t afford any blip in their style or else there’s a problem.
They got behind against Iowa, and they managed to win. They got behind against Michigan State and lost. Illinois has to get up fast like it did against the Hawkeyes.
Why Northwestern Will Win
The pass defense is a killer.
It’ll give up yards – over 200 in four of the six games – but it’ll make a whole lot of big plays, generating 12 picks, just six touchdown passes, and nothing whatsoever deep.
It helps to have played a whole slew of mediocre passing games, but that’s Illinois, too.
There have been moments. Brandon Peters has been fine at times – hitting 72% of his passes for 205 yards against Nebraska – and he hasn’t thrown a pick in his three games.
Isaiah Williams has been getting his chances, too, but the Illini are dead last in the Big Ten in passing, dead last in pass efficient defense, and the defense as a whole is struggling.
It’s not going to take much for Northwestern to put this away. If it gets any sort of a lead, it can rely on the defense – which has been phenomenal in the second halves of games – to shut everything down.
What’s Going To Happen
Illinois has been just decent enough to screw this all up, but it won’t.
There won’t be enough offense to go along with a defensive side that’ll bother the Wildcats throughout. The Illini defensive front will be disruptive enough to force empty drive after empty drive, but the offense will give the ball away twice, Northwestern will capitalize on both of the chances, and it’ll be off to Indianapolis.
Northwestern vs Illinois Prediction, Line
Northwestern 30, Illinois 16
Bet on Northwestern vs Illinois with BetMGM
Northwestern -14.5, o/u: 40.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3
Must See Rating: 3
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