Illinois vs. South Florida Pick
According to oddsmakers at Bovada.lv, South Florida is the clear favorite at home, as the Bulls are getting odds of -17 points against Illinois. The over/under total for the contest is listed at 51.5 points. These two will play from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The game will air live on ESPN.
Illinois is off to a 2-0 start in 2017 thanks to a 20-7 win over Western Kentucky and a 24-21 win over Ball State. The Illini are 1-1 against the spread, covering in the one game they were the underdog. The Illinois defense has been the strong point thus far, allowing just 309.5 yards per game. However, the offense hasn’t been able to produce much. Illinois is putting up just 258 yards per contest thus far, including just 126 passing yards per contest. Chayce Crouch has 252 passing yards with a touchdown and two interceptions while rushing for 46 yards and a score through the two games. Mike Epstein has run for a team-high 165 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Dudek is the leading receiver with 8 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown.
South Florida is also 2-0 following a 42-22 win over San Jose State two weeks ago a 31-17 win over Stoney Brook last week. The Bulls have yet to cover the spread though, as they were a 21-point favorite against the Spartans and a 35-poitn favorite against Stoney Brook. South Florida has had decent offensive numbers, posting 443.5 yards per game behind a great rushing attack that is averaging 234 yards per contest. Quinton Flowers is continuing to garner national attention for his performances. He has thrown for 398 yards with four touchdowns while rushing for 137 yards and a score. Darius Tice and D’Ernest Johnson also both have over 100 rushing yards through two games.
This is a tough call. Illinois isn’t beating great teams, but still doing better than expected to start 2017. USF is winning, but not been able to cover against two below-average teams. Illinois was an underdog against West Kentucky and managed to win. I think the Illini are starting to develop some toughness under Lovie Smith that will show itself on the road tonight. While Illinois doesn’t have the horses to compete with South Florida outright, I think the Illini will do enough to keep the game close. USF has failed to cover in its last four non-conference games and in five of its last seven after a win. Go with the Illini and the points.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREDICTION: ILLINOIS +17