Illinois Fighting Illini Football: What Sports Books, Projection Models Say

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When you look at what the oddsmakers, pundits, bookies, prognosticators and projectionists have to say about forecasting 2020 Illinois Fighting Illini football, well, it’s not very optimistic.

This promises to be the biggest college football season ever for wagering, and casinohub india is a place meet all your wagering needs. The Illini will be long shots to say the least, as they have the longest Big Ten title odds of anybody at +40,000. Sports Betting.ag has Illinois at 3.5, when it comes to win over/unders on the season, so the bookies seem to believe this is going to be an under .500 season in Champaign-Urbana. They only have four league teams with a lower over/under on season wins.

2020 Illinois Fighting Illini Football Schedule

Oct. 24            at Wisconsin

Oct. 31            PURDUE

Nov. 7              MINNESOTA

Nov. 14            at Rutgers

Nov. 21            at Nebraska

Nov. 28            OHIO STATE

Dec. 5              IOWA

Dec. 12            at Northwestern

Key Games:

Illinois defied the odds last fall when they upset the Badgers, in a game that was record setting in terms of defying the spread in a big ten game. Known locally as the “Kam’s Miracle” due to a multiple touchdown pregame line being overturned on the exact weekend the most famous bar on campus was closing/relocating, it was by far the most iconic moment of the Lovie Smith era.

In the season opener, the Badgers will be looking for revenge, so Illinois will have to hit the ground running. The ESPN Football Power Index gives UW a 93.9% chance of winning the season opener, so once again, if Illinois pulls off the upset pver Bucky, it’ll be monumental.

“We’re prepping for a system,”Smith said this morning of the season opener. “I don’t think they’re gonna change what they do. Most of their QB’s have a similar skill set.”

Then on Halloween, they’ll host Purdue in a game that will see which program rebuild is trick, and which is treat.

Later in the season, Illinois takes on Ohio State, the conference favorite, hands down (what else is new?) on November 28 and then Iowa the next week on December 5. Many believe the Hawkeyes are the sleeper team to take the west division, so this will be a crucial stretch.

 

Players to Watch:

Linebacker Jake Hansen, Quarterback Brandon Peters, TE Luke Ford, C Doug Kramer

Ford, the number ranked recruit in the state of Illinois is back home, and ready to see some action for the first time in 22 months. Originally enrolled at Georgia, the #3 tight end in his class and #51 prospect overall endured some NCAA non-sense in his transfer process.

But he’s here right now, and he’s the team’s most talented player on paper. Said Ford of his physical style of play: “I think I watched The Waterboy.” “I was just like, ‘You know what? I’m just gonna go headfirst at this guy and see what happens.'”

Big things are expected of him this season, as they should be for anyone who compares himself to Bobby Boucher!

“I know my capabilities,” Ford continued. “I have a lot of really talented guys around me who are going to help me. I want to play to their level. I have confidence. I have high expectations. I know what I’m capable of. I know what I can do.”

Kramer was rated the third best among all who line up there in the power five by Pro Football Focus. Go here for more on him, and here for more on what he and his teammates did to workout during quarantine. It was creative, and hey, can you find a sledgehammer in the garage to swing?

Hansen is the most accomplished individual player on the team, and one should expect him to contend for first team all-Big Ten and even the Butkus award.

Peters is a quiet, shy, lead by example kind of guy. He doesn’t say much in interviews and despite his status ast QB1, and thus BMOC, he reportedly isn’t seen out and about much on campus. Said Lovie Smith of Peters: “I loved him last year, I love him right now.”

Indeed he’s by far the best quarterback of the Smith era at Illinois, and a big reason they were able to make a lower tier bowl game last year.

If he stays healthy all season long and plays could ball control on offense, Illinois should at least be competitive in most of their games.

Prediction: 3-5

It’s a weird season, which feels like actual Big Ten college football in the same way that Cheese Whiz feels like actual cheese, but that’s just sports in general, here in America 2020, the nation that’s botching the pandemic worse than any other first world country.

Watching Illini football should be somewhat entertaining this fall and winter, but there really is no reason to get too high or high too low about whatever that transpires, because this campaign continues to feel like a quasi-season, a faux-season or pseudo-season.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated, Chicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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