The 10th ranked Penn State Nittany Lions will take their unbeaten record to Memorial Stadium on Friday, September 21, 2018, to face the Illinois Fighting Illini in their Big 10 opener.

No Trouble Last Week

Penn State had no trouble disposing of Kent State 63-10, last Saturday as the Nittany Lions scored opened with three touchdown scores in the first quarter including two off runs by quarterback Trace McSorley. McSorley would finish with 229 passing yards on 11-22 passing with two touchdown passes and one interception while adding another 54 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

The Heisman hopeful has thrown for 603 total yards and 5 touchdowns this season. In addition he has scored on 6 touchdown runs and has rushed for 143 total yards for Penn State through three games played. McSorley now has thrown at least two touchdown passes in eight out of his last nine games played.

First year receiver KJ Hamler has 130 receiving yards and two touchdowns in two games for the Nittany Lions. After playing behind Saquon Barkley last season, junior running back Miles Sanders is having a good start this year. Sanders has rushed for a total of 295 yards with two touchdowns in three games for Penn State whose running game is ranked 26th in the nation.

On defense, Penn State is allowing 18 points and 324 total yards per game. The defense is lead by Juwan Johnson who has 18 tackles this season. Amani Oruwariye has two interceptions while Shareef Miller has three sacks for the Nittany Lions’ defensive unit.

What’re the Odds?

Penn State vs Illinois 9/21/18
Odds: Penn State -5000, Illinois +3000
Odds from as of 9/19/18

Keeping Pace in The Big Ten West

Illinois will try to keep pace in the Big Ten West after losing 19-25 at home to the South Florida Bulldogs last Saturday. M.J. Rivers started in the place of injured quarterback A.J. Bush Jr. and he completed 20 out of 29 passes for 168 total yards. Bush took some reps in the Illini’s first practice of the week but he is still doubtful for this game.

The injury to Bush and the loss of wide receiver Edwin Carter due to a knee injury in week 2 took a toll on the on the team last week and will hurt the team again on Saturday against Penn State. Running back Reggie Corbin who has ran for 240 yards in three games will look to carry the load again on the offensive end of the field.

The Illinois defense is currently giving up 21 points on 480 total yards per game. Jake Hansen leads the Fighting Illini with 26 tackles on the season. Del’Shawn Phillips has two interceptions while Isaiah Gay has one sack for Illinois. After allowing USF just seven points through three quarters, the Illinois defense gave up 18 points in the final period. The run defense has been fine so far but their pass defense has struggled.

Who Wins?

Penn State has won seven out of their last nine games on the road. Illinois has lost five out of their last seven games at home. The Nittany Lions are 5-0 SU in their last five games, 4-1 SU in their last five games on the road and 4-1 SU when playing the Fighting Illini in illinois.

On the other hand, Illinois has won just two out of their last 13 games SU and are 2-6 SU in their last eight games when playing at home. They are also just 1-5 SU in their last five games played versus Penn State.

Penn State’s offense should overpower Illinois’ defense in this game. Furthermore, the lack of offensive weapons on the Illini’s side will compound their woes. The Nittany Lions should shine in this one and prove that they are indeed the 10th ranked team in the nation.

Betting Prediction

We’re picking Penn State to beat Illinois on 9/21/18. But there is no value in their current odds (at GTbets as of 9/19/18. No moneyline odds yet at the other betting sites as of writing) as a $100 bet wins only $2 so I’m going with the other bets here.

Place Your Bet Here

Other Bet/s To Make?

Both teams are 2-1 ATS this season. But the Nittany Lions are 19-5-2 ATS in their last 26 games overall, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games on the road and 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games against the Fighting Illini in Illinois. Likewise, the road team is 10-3 ATS in the last 13 meetings between these teams. On the other hand, Illinois is 6-12 ATS in their last 18 games and 6-14 ATS in their last 20 games at home.

  • Spread Odds: Penn State -28 (-120), Illinois +28 (+100)
  • Odds from as of 9/19/18

The Illini are off to one of their best start in years but I feel that the Nittany Lions are going to overpower them on Friday. Illinois is giving up an average of 325 passing yards per game, only good for 123rd overall in the nation. Offensively, the Fighting Illini rank only 114th in the nation in passing and against the 34th best pass defense in the country, it could be a struggle and Penn State should be able to cover. Prediction: Penn State -28

Another bet worth making in this game is the Over/Under. The Over/Under line in this match is set at 60 with the betting lines as follows:

  • Over/Under Odds: Over 59.5 -115, Under 59.5 -105
  • Odds from as of 9/19/18

Considering Penn State scored 45,51 and 63 in their first three games, there’s a pretty good chance that this game goes over that line. As for trends, the total has gone over in four out of their last five games, gone over in four out of their last five road games and again over in five of their last six road games against Illinois. Prediction: Over 60

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