Ohio State vs. Illinois Football Pick
#16 Illinois, 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the Big 10 hosts Ohio State Saturday afternoon as -4 point favorites over the Buckeyes with a posted total of 43. Ohio State has won the last 8 times as a visitor in this series and has won 5 of the last 6 straight up. It's worth noting however, that Illinois has played Ohio State close even when Ohio State was very good. They lost to #1 Ohio State 17-10 in 2006 and beat #1 Ohio State 28-21 in 2007. Last year they were only down 17-10 with 5 minutes to go in an eventual 24-13 loss.
Last week, we had Ohio State as a Key Release getting +11 points at Nebraska. After the first half, we looked like we couldn't have been more right about the game with the Buckeyes up by a score of 20-6. They punched another one in to start the 3rd to go up 27-6 and the game was all but over, right?
Watching the rest of that game, I don't know who I felt more sorry for, the Buckeyes and their fans and alumni, or us for having made that selection. As it turned out, we needed Nebraska to take a knee to end the game because by that point, Ohio State could not stop them and we were lucky they didn't break one at the end to get the money for their backers to go along with the biggest comeback in Nebraska history.
It was really sad to watch. Coming into this week against Illinois, Ohio State is like a boxer who just took a shot to the chin and is out on his feet. It's up to Illinois now, to come in and finish them off. It's very difficult to come back from a loss like that. With all of the troubles this program has had this year, a loss like that can be the final nail in the coffin.
The yards per point numbers here are relatively even and Ohio State has played a slightly more difficult schedule. But Illinois has better numbers running the ball, passing the ball and stopping the run with both teams close as far as pass defense. But there's a huge QB edge here for Illinois with Scheelhaase over Braxton Miller and an even bigger edge when you look at the mindset of these two teams. Winning breeds more winning. Being 6-0 does wonders for your confidence and mental state. Note that Ohio State gets RB Daniel Herron back for this one though.
Losing back to back games, losing 3 out of the last 4 and losing the way the Buckeyes did last week has this team on the ropes. Illinois has all the edges that matter in this one and have revenge to boot. Our model has Illinois by a score of 24-15 and we agree. We'll lay the small number. Illinois -4