There has been no team that is harder to figure out than the Michigan Wolverines. They had big expectations coming into the season but they have not lived up just yet. Michigan will be on the road in this game against an Illinois team that has lost three in a row.
This was supposed to be Michigan’s year. Many thought that the Wolverines could finally dethrone Ohio State in the Big 10. Those hopes were quickly derailed when they could barely skate by Army in overtime. Michigan followed it up with a 35-14 blowout loss in Wisconsin but they have since won two in a row.
Illinois has lost three in a row to unranked opponents. Their most recent game was a 40-17 loss to Minnesota. Things are not getting easier as they prepare to play Michigan and Wisconsin back-to-back.
Michigan vs. Illinois Preview
Michigan’s secondary should feast against the poor passing attack from the Illini. They struggle to push the ball down the field which is not a good sign against the Wolverines who previously held Iowa to three points.
Illinois’ in ability to throw the ball downfield will allow Michigan to jump short routes and play aggressively. There is a reason that that the Illini have lost three straight, one of them to Eastern Michigan.
“Run game, pass game, protection. Quarterback, receiver, running backs. It’s an evolving, improving group,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said on his offense. “I’ve seen them be at a really high level in practice consistently and a really high level in games. And getting that consistently high level in both games and practice is what I feel what I see coming.”
If there is one positive about Illinois, it is their takeaways on defense. They have two or more takeaways in four of five games this season. On the other hand, Michigan has turned the ball over 11 times this season and their offense does not seem to be clicking just yet despite what Harbaugh believes. It is a long shot but the Illini will have to turn Michigan over a few times if they want to stay in this game.
Michigan vs. Illinois Pick & Prediction
Michigan-Iowa last Saturday was a dead under from the start. The Wolverines’ defense has kicked it into full gear and that should continue against Illinois. The o/u is 49.5 right now according to FanDuel Sportsbook. In a Michigan game, the number is always low but this one will depend on if Illinois can get in the end zone.
Michigan is 22.5-point road favorites this week. On paper, this matchup is one sided and should be a blowout but Michigan does not score enough to blow anyone out. Aside from their 52-0 win over Rutgers, who is a borderline college program, their games have been played close. This is an interesting spread.
The game itself will not be entertaining. It will be a tough watch if you do not have a bet placed. Michigan will win and could be the attractive pick but 22.5-points seems like a lot for a team that does not score. Cautiously roll with Illinois in this one.
PICK: Illinois +22.5
SCORE PREDICTION: Michigan 31, Illinois 14