Friday night’s menu of Week four appetizers includes a Big Ten matchup that could be more interesting than at first glance. The Penn State Nittany Lions are rolling after a week one scare against Appalachian State. Meanwhile the Fighting Illini of Illinois are operating under the radar as an improved team that is yet to master the art of consistency. While coach James Franklin has gotten Penn State to the point where they can reload his counterpart Lovie Smith at Illinois is still working on the buildout.
Watch this Week 4 matchup live on Friday, September 21, 2018, at
9 p.m. ET from Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois. The game can be seen on FS1.
College Football Odds at BookMaker.eu
Penn State -27.5
Over/Under (Check Back Later)
This line is based entirely on public brand perception. Penn State is a blueblood traditional marquee power while Illinois has been a classic “go against” team in recent years. Penn State’s blowout wins the past two weeks have added fuel to the chalk’s fire. The betting public is yet to be sold on Illinois.
Penn State is 3-0 straight up and 2-1 against the spread with all three of their games going over the total. After a near death experience in which they defeated Appalachian State 45-38 in overtime the Nittany Lions have won at Pitt 51-6 and at home vs. Kent 63-10.
Illinois got off to a promising start with a 31-24 comeback home win over Kent followed by a 34-14 home win over Western Illinois. The Fighting Illini stumbled last week in a 25-19 home loss to South Florida in which the blew a 19-7 3rd quarter lead. South Florida dominated as the game progressed and ended up with a 626-393 total yards advantage.
Illinois ranks 74th in the nation for total offense and 84th for scoring offense. The Fighting Illini rank 117th for total defense although 47th for scoring defense.
Offensively Penn State ranks 31st overall and fifth for scoring. On defense the Nittany Lions rank 39th overall in the country and 34th for points allowed.
Penn State has been a strong wagering value as a road favorite with six payouts in their last eight laying points on the road. The Nits have gone over the total in seven of their last ten as road chalks.
Illinois on the other hand has been a poor value as a home dog with just three payouts in their last 13 games when getting points at Memorial Stadium. Five of the last seven games in which the Fighting Illini were home dogs went under the total.
Head to Head
Illinois has been the better value in their series with Penn State. The Fighting Illini have covered the spread in seven of their last ten games against the Nittany Lions. Four of the last five games between these teams have also gone under the total. In fact, Penn State has had their best success at Illinois where they have come away with the money in six of their last eight visits including two of the last three. Five of the last six between these teams have gone over the total at Memorial Stadium.
Players to Watch
Penn State senior quarterback Trace McSorley is among the very best in the country. So far, he has a five to one touchdown to interception ratio and a rating of 126.6. Miles Sanders has impressed all at running back with six yards per carry and two TD’s. KJ Hamler, Brandon Polk, and DeAndre Thompkins are all over 18 yards per catch average for Penn State.
Free ATS Pick
Illinois being mauled statistically by South Florida last week is not a good sign. Penn State plays their best football on the road. The Nittany Lions have also proven to be able to get the money at Champaign.
College Football Odds: Penn State 42, Illinois 14
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