By Ryan Clark
Spread: Michigan St -14 ½
O/U: 45 ½
Game Time/ TV/ Location/ Weather: 2:30 CT/ FS1/ Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI/ High of 41, partly cloudy, 0% chance of precip, winds 10-20 mph
Illinois: The Illini (5-4, 3-3) are coming off a 38-10 victory over Rutgers. They’ve won three in a row now, and are just one win away from becoming bowl-eligible. Can they get it? Well, they’ve shown a lot of improvement in the 2nd half of the season, and they’ve got arguably the biggest upset in the nation so far by beating Wisconsin. Even their loss to Michigan in Week 6 wasn’t decided until late. So maybe they can. This road trip to East Lansing won’t be easy though.
Michigan St: The Spartans (4-4, 2-3) are coming off a bye. They need two wins out of their last four games in order to go to a bowl. This should be attainable. Their offense has struggled this year (again), and their defense has shown some cracks, but their remaining schedule includes this one, at Michigan, at Rutgers, and vs Maryland. They’ve lost three in row now (and outscored 100-17), but these have been to the best teams in the league – Ohio St, Wisconsin, and Penn St.
Final Analysis & Pick: Some stats to consider:
I had to double check Illinois’ turnover margin. At +12, that’s pretty impressive. Michigan St might have the better defense, but Illinois will be coming into this one with a ton of confidence. The Spartans, meanwhile, are coming off a bye week. They’ve had two weeks now to try to find some semblance of an offense. This line seems high to me, given the state of the Spartan’s offense. If Illinois can get a couple turnovers here, they might just win this one. Only two teams have beaten Illinois by more than 15 points this year (Minnesota and Michigan), and those teams have offenses that are much, much better than Michigan St’s. I’m going with he Illini.