Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Preview, Prediction, and Free Pick 9-21-2018

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Preview, Prediction, and Free Pick 9-21-2018

Penn State Nittany Lions (3-0) vs Illinois Fighting Illini (2-1)

Date : 09/21/2018
Time : 9:00 pm EST
Location : Memorial Stadium, Champagne, Illinois

Pick, Prediction, & Preview:

Penn State Nittany Lions vs Illinois Fighting Illini

The 10th ranked Nittany Lions of Penn State will travel to Memorial Stadium in Champagne, Illinois, to battle the Illinois Fighting Illini in week four college football action on Friday night at 9 pm EST.  The Fighting Illini is fresh off a 25-19 home loss to the South Florida Bulls on last Saturday as they were hammered on defense both on the ground and in the air, yet, covering the spread as 14-point home underdogs while the under was the play with the total being set at 59 points for the game.  Penn State, on the other hand, is coming off a 63-10 blowout home victory in week three as they were certainly able to cover the spread as 35-point favorites while the over was the play with the total of 64.5 points being surpassed.  These two teams would meet on October 31, 2015, where the Nittany Lions would take the 39-0 shutout home victory while covering the spread as 3.5-point favorites while the Fighting Illini would take the victory on November 22, 2014 with a 16-14 home win as they would cover as five-point dogs.  The under has been the play in the last three meetings amongst these two teams, overall, while Illinois would cover in two of the last three games.

Penn State Nittany Lions's Latest Performance :

Trace McSorley and the Nittany Lions would have no trouble disposing of the Kent State Golden Flashes on last Saturday as they would score three touchdowns in the first quarter sparked by two touchdown runs by McSorley along with a 40-yard touchdown strike from the quarterback to DeAndre Thompkins to put the Lions up 21-7 after one period.  They would outscore the Golden Flashes 42-3 the rest of the way as McSorley would end with 229 yards on 12 for 22 passing along with an interception while also having 54 yards rushing on the day.  The rushing game was paced by Miles Sanders (86 yds, 14 rushes), Mark Allen (62 yds, 11 rushes), and Jonathan Thomas (84 yds, 3 carries) for a PSU rushing attack ranked 26th in the country.  Thompkins and Daniel George would step up for the receiving corps with 5 receptions for 196 yards total in the win.  They would certainly like to begin where they left on in this win as the Illini defense is ranked 123rd in total pass defense in allowing 325 yards per game to their opponent thus far while also looking to pour on the offense, altogether, as the Nittany Lions are putting up 53 point per outing thus far in the year.  They may certainly have yet another outstanding offensive display versus Illinois in that defensive ends Verdis Brown and Jamal Milan are day-to-day with injuries and uncertain if they will suit up for Friday’s matchup.  Penn State would also love to clean up things as it relates to penalties as they committed nine total for their matchup with Kent State for a total of 109 yards while also holding onto the ball more as they would have 2 fumbles in their blowout win.

Illinois Fighting Illini 's Latest Performance :

The Fighting Illini would have success early in their game versus the Bulls on Saturday as they would claim the early 16-7 lead at halftime behind three Chase McLaughlin field goals along with a 43-yard scamper by Mike Epstein.  Nonetheless, it would be a tale of two halves as Blake Barnett would toss two touchdown passes to Darnell Salomon with the last being a 50-yard strike to put the Bulls up for good at 25-19 to seal the victory with only 2:24 seconds left in the game.  Salomon would have 95 total yards for the game on five receptions while Barnett would end with 411 yards in the win.  Jordan Cronkite would run wild on the Illini defense as he would have 136 yards on the night against an Illini defense ranked 71st in the run in allowing 155 yards per outing.  M.J. Rivers would go 20 of 29 passing for Illinois in defeat with 168 total yards for the game while Mike Epstein would lead the rushing attack with 113 yards on 19 carries while also leading the 114th ranked passing attack in the nation with 56 yards, total.  If the Fighting Illini is not able to shore up their shortcomings on both sides of the ball, it will be next to impossible to contain a PSU offense that is ranked 26th in rushing with 238 yards per game while passing for 260 yards per outing, good for 52nd in the country.  Illinois, on the other hand, does possess the 22nd ranked rushing offense in college football with 249 yards per contest despite missing running back Dre Brown (questionable-foot) along with offensive lineman Kievan Myers (questionable-unspecified).  Nonetheless, the passing game has been miserable averaging only 165 yards total in 2018 primarily due to receiver Edwin Carter missing the rest of the season with a knee injury sustained in week two versus Western Michigan.  For the Nittany Lions defense, the only injury of note is cornerback John Reid who is uncertain with a knee injury for the contest on Friday which could provide a lift for the dismal passing attack for the Fighting Illini, altogether.

How Penn State Nittany Lions & Illinois Fighting Illini Matchup.

Vegas Odds, Offshore Odds, & Odds ATS:

Penn State is 2-1 ATS while the O/U is 3-0

Illinois is 2-1 ATS while the O/U is 0-3

In-Depth Analysis of each team:

The Lions will make the trip to Memorial Stadium after their blowout victory over the Golden Flashes to face an Illinois team that were stunned at home by a South Florida team that would attack their defensive secondary along with their defensive front in putting up well over 600 total yards in the contest.  The Illini would allow the Bulls over 600 yards of total offense as well as they could not stop the running game which opened the passing game even more.  In all, the Lions will look to punish that defensive front that may be without two of their defensive tackles for this matchup while allowing their running game to provide opportunities for Thompkins and George on the outside.  It will be interesting to see how the Illini respond to their lackluster effort on defense versus an offense in PSU that is very dominant on the ground.

Against The Spread Selection: Pick:  Penn State Nittany Lions

My reason for the pick :


Penn state should really shine in the running game in this matchup.  As stated, they are dealing with injuries in their defense front and will not be able to handle the physicality of their powerful run game in the end.  Combine this with the fact that McSorley has picked up where he left off from last season along with Thompkins and George continuing to come along well, I see yet another long day for Illinois at home versus a dominant PSU offense on Friday night.  Please check back for the spread, however, I see Penn State being victorious in this contest.

Totals Selection: Pick: Over

My reason for the prediction :



While these teams have not played each other in quite some time, and with the under being the play in their last three meetings, I will go with the over in this matchup as I happen to believe that Penn State’s running game is very good this year.  And while Illinois continues to struggle without critical pieces on their defensive line, one can expect them to hammer the defensive front for the home team in this matchup.  With that being said, McSorley is outstanding as well and has tons of talent at receiver that he will use to exploit the defensive secondary for the Illini as the Bulls would in the week prior.  In all, the Illini offense is also struggling and will run into problems with a Penn State defense ranking in the top 50 in the nation in total yards allowed for the year.  Nonetheless, I will back the over in this contest as the Nittany Lions roll on the road.

Betting trends for Penn State Nittany Lions:

    • Over is 4-0 in Nittany Lions last 4 road games
    • Over is 7-0 in Nittany Lions last 7 games following a straight up win
    • Over is 5-0 in Nittany Lions last 5 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.

Betting trends for Illinois Fighting Illini :

    • Fighting Illini are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game
    • Under is 4-0 in Fighting Illini last 4 games in September
    • Fighting Illini are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Friday games


A sports analyst and enthusiast, Filipa enjoys writing articles for NHL, NBA, NCAAB, and, of course, for NCAAF. In addition, he enjoys the true art of breaking down games in such as way as to locate certain trends that can impact future contests. With a willingness to research, construct, and relay information that any reader can understand, Filipa aims to provide the reader with interesting & indepth knowledge for upcoming sporting events.