The University of Illinois will host the Penn State Nittany Lions for their big ten opener on Friday night at Memorial Stadium. Friday night is a unique time for a Big Ten game to be played, but it allows the conference to showcase its games. This game features a Big Ten favorite, Penn State, versus a big team bottom feeder, Illinois.
The Nittany Lions come into this game with a 3-0 record and are also ranked as the number ten team in the nation. Penn State was able to sneak by Appalachian State in the season opener, before blowing out Pittsburgh and Kent State. Illinois also beat Kent State this season but suffered their lone loss to USF last weekend. The Fighting Illini are a 28 point underdog in this game.
McSorley Leading Penn State Offense
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley has been the offensive star this season for the Nittany Lions and has a shot to win the Heisman Trophy this season. McSorley has thrown for 603 yards this season while also throwing five touchdown passes. The dual-threat quarterback has rushed for six touchdowns through the first three games of the season, and should have plenty of success in this game.
The Penn State defense gave up over 450 yards to Appalachian State in the season opener but has performed much better in the two most recent games. Penn State has given up just 16 total points in their last two victories and will face a struggling Illini offense in this game. The Nittany Lions have their sights set on a Big Ten Championship and can’t afford to lose this game.
Injuries Piling Up For Illinois
The Fighting Illini have one of the youngest rosters in college football and have already suffered a ton of injuries this season. Starting quarterback AJ Bush suffered an injury in week two of the season, and his status is unclear for the game on Friday night. If he is unable to play Illinois will start M.J. Rivers II at quarterback. Rivers has completed 64 percent of his passes this season and thrown for a pair of touchdowns. The Illinois offense will need to put up points in this game if they want to keep it close.
The Illini defense has struggled for much of the 2018 season, including the fourth quarter of their loss to USF. Illinois gave up eighteen fourth-quarter points last weekend to blow a 12 point fourth quarter lead. The Fighting Illini will need to find a way to slow down McSorley and the Penn State offense in this game.
Penn State Wins, Illini Cover
Penn State has yet to lose a game this season, but they haven’t played up to their full potential. The whole Big Ten Conference has struggled in the early going, and Penn State doesn’t appear to have College Football Playoff potential.
Illinois is still going through a major rebuild, but they do have some talented pieces on the field. The Fighting Illini have very little shot of actually winning this game, but they have the ability to keep it close. A 28 point spread is too large for a Big Ten game, and the Illini will cover. Take the points and bet Illinois +28.0 in this game.