Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: UCLA vs. Illinois
UCLA Bruins vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Gambling Odds from BetDSI
NCAA FB Betting Favorite: Illinois -3
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is in its infancy. This is just the second year for this particular bowl game. This isn’t exactly a marquee matchup. UCLA and Illinois both fired their head coaches after the season. The Bruins actually finished with a 6-7 record, while Illinois went 6-6. The Fighting Illini started with six straight wins and ended with six straight losses. Can either team get fired up for this one?
Kevin Prince is the starter under center for UCLA. Prince is a running quarterback who is still developing as a passer. He threw ten touchdowns and seven interceptions this year in the regular season. Johnathan Franklin is the Bruins star running back. Franklin averaged six yards per carry this year. Derrick Coleman is a senior tailback who has really had a breakout season in 2011. Coleman has rushed for 11 touchdowns and 726 yards. Nelson Rosario is the team’s play maker on the outside. Rosario caught 61 passes for 1,106 yards last year. The Bruins average just 23.8 points per game.
The UCLA defense was extremely disappointing this year. This is a group that has quite a bit of talent, but they just haven’t been able to put it together. This unit allowed 424 yards and 32.2 points per game in 2011. The team was torched for 45 points or more five times this year. Can the Bruins slow down Illinois?
Nathan Scheelhaase suffered an injury in the team’s final regular season game, and he is listed as questionable for this contest. Scheelhaase is a nice dual-threat quarterback when healthy, but if he isn’t able to go it will be Reilley O’Toole starting for the Fighting Illini. O’Toole is a talented freshman, but he struggled in limited action this year. Jason Ford, Troy Pollard, and Donovonn Young all get plenty of carries in the backfield. A.J. Jenkins gives Illinois a top-notch wide receiver. Jenkins piled up 84 catches and seven touchdowns in 2011. Unfortunately for Illinois, they really don’t have a second option on the outside. The Fighting Illini did not score more than 17 points in any of their last six games this year.
Illinois had a very solid defense this year. The Fighting Illini lost their top two players from last year’s defense, but this group really did a nice job coming together again in 2011. Illinois ranked seventh in the nation in total defense. The secondary was especially strong this season. Trulon Henry is the veteran leader of the secondary. Illinois gave up 20.1 points per game this year.
I give Illinois the edge in this one because they have the much better defense. Look for the Fighting Illini to have enough success offensively to win and cover here.
Free Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Pick: Illinois -3