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Michigan vs. Illinois Big 10 Football Pick with Analysis

11/12/11

Neither was expected to do well in 2011, but Illinois (6-3) and Michigan (7-2) has turned into a key Big Ten matchup late in the year. The line is currently set at PK with a total of 49 at 5 Dimes

We all knew coming into this year that Michigan was going to go as far as Denard Robinson could take them. Turns out it was much further than anyone expected. The junior QB has rushed for 834 yards and 10 TDs. His passing game hasn't been so hot with only 1,519 yards and 13 TDs. He's also thrown a high amount of INTs at 12. Last year that would have this team in a very bad position.

This isn't your old Michigan Wolverines team though. This team can play defense. They rank 7th in the nation in Points Against at 15.7 PPG. They are struggling a bit being losers of 2 of their last 3 games. They have caught a team on a 3 game skid and that could help them get back on track.

Illinois started off 6-0 and they did so by scoring a lot of points. The Fighting Illini haven't done that in their last 3 games and subsequently those games were all losses. In order to compete in this spot they need big time play from QB Nathan Scheelhaaase. He's a versatile player similar to Robinson. His rushing game isn't quite as strong, but he can throw the ball better than Robinson. Illinois plays defense well, but if they don't start getting points on the board like they did in their first 6 games they will struggle mightily to win this one.

Not being able to put points on the board is about as fundamental as it gets when handicapping a game, but that's really what this one comes down to. Michigan has scored 28+ in every game but 2 this year. Illinois has scored 7, 14 and 7 their last 3 games and while two of those games were against the big time D's of Penn State and Ohio State, it's safe to say the Michigan defense is likely the 3rd best on their entire schedule.

Yards per points numbers favor Michigan. Their numbers are among the best in the land with a 13 on offense and a 21 on defense. Illinois is a 15 on offense and a 16 on defense. The higher the defensive number, the better. The lower the offensive number, the better. Making a line using those numbers, Michigan would be a 7 point favorite on a neutral field.

Our score prediction model has it closer than we expected. The model says that, unlike last year's 67-65 shoot out, (Michigan won), this year's game will be low scoring, predicting a 19-17 Michigan win. We think Michigan is the better team here and all we're being asked to do is pick a straight up winner. The Wolverines get the nod. Michigan pk ***Note that under 49 looks to be worth a good look as well

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