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Illinois vs. Penn State
Betting Line: Penn State -8 o/u 42
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Week 6 in the Big Ten brings an exciting match-up between the Illinois Fighting Illini (2-2, 3-1 ATS) and the Penn State Nittany Lions (3-2, 1-4 ATS) at Beaver Field in University Park, PA, Saturday, October 9th . Penn State's Beaver Stadium features a natural grass playing surface. The Fighting Illini play on synthetic turf at home and have been playing on turf all year, including their relatively impressive performance against #2 Ohio State, in which they covered their underdog spread. The Illini might be caught off guard on the real grass playing surface and the Nittany Lions will look to take advantage of this angle. Clear skies and 61 degrees at game time is expected with a very slight wind coming from the NW which is straight up and down the grid iron at Beaver Stadium
Penn State has one main QB Robert Bolden, 88/150 (58.7%) for 1035 total yards (6.9 ypa). He has thrown 3 touchdowns but complements that with 6 interceptions. The Penn state rushing game returns star Evan Royster who currently has 353 yards from 67 attempts on the season (5.3 avg) with 1 touchdown. Stephfon Green also gets a fair bit of action with 35 carries for 121 yards (3.5 avg) and also has a touchdown. The passing game is relatively spread out for the Nittany Lions with 4 receivers all seeing a good amount of action. Derek Moye (19 rec), Brett Brackett (17 rec), Devon Smith (16 rec) and Justin Brown (13 rec) all are performing well each averaging about 14 yards per reception between them. Brackett however, seems to be the main target for touchdown passes, boasting 2 on the year so far. Chaz Powell may be able to provide a surprise kick return boasting a 100 yard return on the year already.
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The Fighting Illini feature a rush potent quarter back in Nathan Scheelhaase, who has thrown for 487 yards on 78 attempts (6.2 avg) but also boasts 50 rushing attempts for 207 yards (4.1 avg) scoring 2 touchdowns. Illinois' rushing game features Mikel Leshoure who has had 78 carries on the year for 487 yards (6.2 avg) and has racked up 3 touchdowns. Also, not to go unmentioned is back Jason Ford who has garnered 2 touchdowns of his own on 29 rushing attempts. Illinois has only 2 primary receiver threats AJ Jenkins (13 rec) and Jarred Fayson (16 rec). Jenkins has been more effective posting 206 yards to Fayson's 129 yards and on fewer attempts, in addition to that, Jenkins has 2 touchdowns while Fayson has 0. The illini have had trouble with kick returns, Darius Milliness, their main return man has only managed a 29 yard long return so far this season.
Some betting trends to consider for this match up are; Fighting Illini are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 road games. Illini are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games as an underdog. Illini are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 conference games. One weakness the Illini have is their 1-4 ATS record on grass. Penn state trends include a strong trend of 18-7-2 ATS in October over the last several years. However, Penn State is only 2-8 in their last 10 games as a home favorite.
The jury is still out on Penn State. They were soundly beaten by the two very good teams they faced on Iowa and Alabama. Then they have wins over Temple, Kent and Youngstown. Illinois played Ohio State much closer than we thought they would. Yards per point numbers here actually favor Illinois with a 15 on offense and 18 on defense while Penn State is an 19 offensively and defensively. Converted to a betting line, Penn State would be about a 4 point favorite. We're getting +8 so we'll take it. The under is worth a look here as well. Neither team is exactly lighting up the scoreboard and with ypp numbers like we see here, under is usually a strong play.
So, two plays here. Illinois +8 and