Spread: Maryland -7
The Maryland Terps head to Champaign, Illinois to face off against the Fighting Illini in a Friday Night Big10 showdown.
Illinois is coming off back to back ugly losses against very average teams after opening up the College football season with a surprising win against Nebraska. They lost their starting QB, Brandon Peters, in the opening game and have been playing with their backup since. Peters should be back tonight. Illini hoped their defense would be improved after the firing of Lovie Smith, but their hopes were shutdown last week watching that secondary against Virginia. At times, it literally looked like Virginia was just playing pitch and catch out there in warmups with no defense. The Illini are allowing on average 34 points a game in their first 3 outings. They’re ranked 113 for Average score against on defense and 123 defensive pass yards allowed. The Illinois offense will need to perform to keep the Illini in this one. Going back to last year, Illinois is 1-5 against the spread in last 6 games.
Maryland comes into this game 2-0 with wins against Howard and West Virginia. This will be their first road test of the season. They are led by Taulia Tagovailoa, brother of Tua Tagovailoa. Taulia is a talented QB, but struggled some last year with turnovers. He has looked much more efficient to start the year this year ranking 3rd I the nation in completion percentage. I would expect the Maryland pass attack to have a field day against this poor Illini secondary. The Terps defensive has also looked solid after blanking Howard last week and containing the West Virginia offense in week 1. West Virginia was able to gain some traction on the ground against this Maryland defense. Illinois may try to attack the terps here as the have an experienced front 5 on the OL and decent RBs. Maryland is 4-2 in the last 6 games
Let’s be honest. Maryland is the better football team here. Illinois came out week 0 with the whole nation watching, behind a packed crowd, and took it to a bad Nebraska team. They have since shown their true colors and have had back-to-back ugly performances. With that being said, Maryland -7 isn’t the play that I love tonight. I know you just read this whole article and are now thinking, “Oh, so he is on the over”. Not so fast. The line has jumped up 2.5 points from its opening line of 59. 61.5 is a lot of points. Illinois offense is somewhat competent, and I expect them to put a couple of long drives together pounding the rock and keeping the clock moving. I do fully expect Maryland to torch this Illini defense, but I think the home crowd and prime time spotlight can result in just enough big plays out of this Illini defense. Also, some of you may scoff at this, but Illinois punter, Blake Hayes, is unreal. I expect a couple Illinois drives to stall out at mid field, and for the Illini punt team to pin the Terps deep a couple of drives this game. The play: Illinois/Maryland UNDER 61.5. Best of luck to all!