Illinois Fighting Illini
(3-2, 4-1 ATS)
Michigan State Spartans
(6-0, 4-2 ATS)
Illinois shocked us all last week when it successfully went on the road and beat the Penn State Nittany Lions in Happy Valley a week after sticking around with the Ohio State Buckeyes for about 55 of the 60 minutes at home. This has been just a murderous stretch of schedule that fortunately gets a lot easier from here for the Illini. Another upset might just signal the start of a big time roll, as there are really only two more games in conference play that could cause some issues. A 6-2 record wouldn’t be overly surprising, and that just might be good enough to contend for the conference title depending on how everything else shakes out. All the credit deserves to go to this defense for HC Ron Zook, as this unit has played phenomenal ball against a tough schedule this year. The Illini are averaging allowing just 304.8 yards per game this season, and that is only yielding 17.0 points per game for the opposition. Offensively, RB Mikel LeShoure is averaging over 120 yards per game on the ground, and he is leading the way for a rushing attack that ranks No. 20 in the nation. QB Nathan Scheelhaase has thrown for 260 yards with one TD and one pick in his L/2 games, numbers which are very respectable considering the fact that he is a freshman that was going against two of the best defenses in the country.
Then there are the Spartans, who have raced out of the blocks at 6-0 this year and not only are thinking about the Rose Bowl, but the National Championship as well. The NCAA football odds suggest that eventually they’ll get picked off, but last week’s victory in the Big House against the Michigan Wolverines might suggest otherwise. Ohio State is dodged on the schedule, and if Northwestern and Penn State prove to really be farces, the only game separating MSU from an undefeated season would be the trip to Kinnick Stadium on October 30th. The rushing attack for Sparty could be second to perhaps just the Ohio State Buckeyes this year in the Big Ten. RB Edwin Baker already has 683 yards and six scores this year, while RB Le’Veon Bell has 549 yards and eight tuddies. Both are averaging over seven yards per carry on the season.
Michigan State’s offense has shown took much consistency to be beaten in this game. This unit has scored at least 30 points in all six of its games this year and has between 30 and 38 scored against all five FBS foes. We were fooled last week by just how strong this team really is, and we won’t be fooled again. This could be a very close call with the college football spreads, but we trust that MSU can at least salvage us a push.
NCAA Football Free Pick: Michigan State Spartans -7