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NCAAF Free Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini vs Michigan State Spartans

NCAAF Free Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini vs Michigan State Spartans

Illinois Fighting Illini vs Michigan State Spartans (MICH ST -14.5, O/U 44.5)

Mark Dantonio and the Spartans will look to end their three-game losing streak against Lovie Smith and the Fighting Illini on Saturday. Michigan State had a murderers’ row of opponents heading into its bye week, facing three straight top-10 teams in Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State. Illinois comes in on a higher note, having won three in a row. They notably took down No. 6-ranked Wisconsin at home, and consecutively handled two more Big Ten opponents to help amass a 5-4 record.

Despite entering with a losing streak, the Spartans are favored by a healthy 14.5 points at home. Our model believes they’ll win by even more than that, projecting a final score of 34.9 - 14.1 in favor of Michigan State. Given our projected outcome, we are recommending a heavy wager on the Spartans. Our model suggests a $123 wager on MICH ST -14.5 for an average $100 bettor.

The Linebacker’s NCAAF picks are 241-210 ATS (53.4%) and 246-188 on OVER/UNDERs (56.6%) over the first 10 weeks, profiting +47.44 units, or $4,744 for an average $100 bettor. Head over to thelinebacker.com to sign up for a free trial and get access to EVERY NCAAF Week 11 prediction.

Why Will Michigan State Cover the Spread?

  • The Spartans have an excellent defense that should be able to shut down a poor Illinois offense. Michigan State allows just 4.5 yards per play (16th) and 313.8 total yards per game (18th) to opponents. Illinois enters the matchup averaging 4.8 yards per play, which ranks 104th in the country.
  • The Fighting Illini’s strength on offense is their rushing attack, which averages 163.0 yards per game compared to only 162.8 yards passing per game. Michigan State’s run defense is especially stout, surrendering a measly 3.4 yards per carry (21st). Illinois will likely have to succeed through the air, which will also be difficult against the Spartans. Mark Dantonio’s defense has allowed 9.6 yards per completion (third-best) and 6.2 yards per attempt (18th).
  • Michigan State’s defense should also put a ton of pressure on opposing QB Brandon Peters. Illinois has surrendered 2.9 sacks per game (110th) and a 10.28 percent sack rate (118th) to opposing pass rushes. The Spartans possess a potent pass rush, averaging 2.8 sacks per game (28th), while reaching the opponent’s QB on 8.06 percent of their dropbacks (also 28th).
  • Illinois has benefited from some outstanding luck in the turnover department. They rank third in the nation with a +12 turnover margin, and first with 22 turnovers forced. They should see some regression to the mean, however, as 15 of their turnovers have come via fumble recoveries. That is easily the highest in the country, as no other team has more than 12. Their recovery rate on fumbles is 69.7 percent, third-highest in the country and nearly 20 percentage points higher than the nation’s average.

Illinois @ Michigan State: How to Bet the Total

This game currently features an OVER/UNDER of 45.5. The Linebacker’s projected score totals 49.0 points (34.9 - 14.1), giving us a solid edge on the OVER in this one. Our model suggests an $85 wager on OVER 45.5 for an average $100 bettor.

Illinois Michigan State NCAAF Football Linebacker picks