Illinois Fighting Illini
(3-9, 4-8 ATS in 2009)
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(8-5, 5-8 ATS in 2009)
Needless to say, these two teams don’t care for each other too much. The Missouri Tigers and Illinois Fighting Illini are set to do battle in their annual rivalry, and this is a college football betting battle that you are absolutely not going to want to miss!
The Illini are going to have a lot of problems this season trying to get themselves in order and to save the job of their head coach on the hot seat, Ron Zook. This will be the debut of freshman QB Nathan Scheelhaase, who is taking over for the departed Juice Williams. The key to this game is going to be keeping Scheelhaase calmed down and utilizing RB Mikel LeShoure and the rest of the crop of running backs at Illinois’ disposal to try to slow down the potent Missouri offense. If Scheelhaase is forced into uncomfortable situations, this game could get very ugly, very quickly. The Illini don’t have the defensive horses to try to stop Mizzou, as they ranked 100th in the land in passing last year at 248.8 yards per game and conceded 30.2 points per game.
QB Blaine Gabbert threw for 3,593 yards last year and helped pace the nation’s 32nd best offense at 412.5 yards per game. Many think that this is the year that Gabbert and the offense really bust out of their shell for the first time since the end of the Chase Daniel era. Attaining 450+ yards and 35+ points per game seems like a relatively realistic possibility. The bad news is that WR Danario Alexander needs to be replaced after he caught a whopping 113 passes for 1,781 yards and 14 scores last year. The rushing attack should be strong with the trio of RBs Derrick Washington, De’Vion Moore, and Kendial Lawrence all back. The biggest issue is going to be the team’s pass defense, which allowed 251.5 yards per game to opposing aerial assaults. Losing LB Sean Weatherspoon to the NFL Draft hurt immensely, but the good news is that Illinois’ offense shouldn’t at a point this early in the season where it can do a ton of damage, especially with a true freshman playing quarterback.
Last year, the Tigers racked up 325 passing yards and went for 442 total yards of offense in a 37-9 blowout that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicates. Gabbert and company played down to their opponents at times in 2009, but if this is really going to be a Heisman Trophy type of campaign for Mizzou’s signal caller, this is a game that must be a romp. It might be a rivalry, but the Tigers are going to dismantle the Illini in this NCAA football betting affair.
Selection: Missouri Tigers -11.5
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