Wisconsin vs. Illinois Odds
|Wisconsin Odds||-19.5 [BET NOW]|
|Illinois Odds||+19.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-1111/+700 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||51.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||Big Ten Network|
The Wisconsin Badgers will be expected to get their 2020 season underway with a win in Friday night’s Big Ten opener. The Badgers, who come into the curtain-raiser ranked as the No. 14 team in the country, are three-score favorites over Illinois under the lights at Camp Randall Stadium on Friday night and sport a huge -1112 moneyline.
Is the betting market too high on Wisky? Should you bank on some rust as these two teams get their season started? Let’s dive in.
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Illinois Fighting Illini
For the first time in the Lovie Smith era, there’s some optimism surrounding the Fighting Illini before the season. The Illini are coming off a 6-7 performance in 2019, the best in Smith’s three-year tenure. Their 35-20 loss to Cal in the Redbox Bowl wrapped up a season that was full of exasperating losses and shocking wins.
The story remained the same each time the Illini stepped on the field. If they could create Havoc and protect quarterback Brandon Peters, they could scratch out results. The good news is that the Illini are returning four starters on their offensive line, including the unit’s anchor in Doug Kramer at center. Kramer missed the Redbox Bowl with injury, and it was no coincidence that Cal dominated Illinois in the trenches with two sacks, three hurries and four tackles for loss (TFLs).
Even though they finished 112th in Overall Success Rate, the Illini offense finished eighth in Power Success Rate and 38th in pass explosiveness. While the offense looks to stabilize with a seasoned offensive line and talent at the skill positions, the defense will need to replace top tackler Dele Harding and top pass-rusher Oluwole Betiku.
If there is an immediate weakness to look out for on Opening Night, it’s the losses along a defensive front that ranked 24th in Stuff Rate and 38th in Line Yards last season.
The Badgers will need to navigate an injury at the most important position before the season kicks off. Quarterback Jack Coan is dealing with a right foot injury, which will sideline the Long Island native indefinitely. Coan’s replacement will be four-star redshirt freshman Graham Mertz.
Everyone knows the Badgers’ signature is the rushing attack, which might struggle in the absence of Jonathan Taylor. Wisconsin finished inside the top 15 in Line Yards, Stuff Rate and Rushing Success Rate, and the offensive line returns four players with at least 11 starts. But replicating Taylor’s success is a copious task.
Defensively, the Badgers project to be top-notch. Wisconsin returns 81% of a unit that ranked sixth in Success Rate and second in Havoc in 2019. Over 22 defensive players featured in at least 100 snaps last season, though the Badgers will need to find a way to replace linebacker Zack Baun.
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Betting Analysis & Pick
For investors that missed that window, our Action Network projections made this line Wisconsin -22.5. That’s a large number to cover for an offense that will be led by a redshirt freshman and will need to replace a lot of production at running back and wide receiver. Illinois’ front-seven may have taken a hit, but the Illini should at least be able to keep the explosiveness to a minimum.
From its veteran quarterback to the future NFL lineman at center, there is plenty to like about the Illini’s offense.
Wisconsin finished 128th in seconds per play last season, and that trend should continue into 2020. The first-half under is worth a play as the Badgers try to get in rhythm. That should also bode well for the Illini to keep this game respectable in the first 30 minutes.
Illinois should give this new-look Badgers team a scare.
The Bets: Illinois +10.5 (1H); Under 27.5 (1H)