The PAC-12 and Big 10 square off in an exciting matchup featuring a pair of 2-0 teams when the 18th-ranked Arizona St. Sun Devils travel to Champaign, IL this Saturday night (7:00pm ET) to face the Illinois Fighting Illini. ASU fought off a then 21st-ranked Missouri team last week at home by a score of 37-30 in overtime, while Illinois has routed a pair of over-matched opponents in South Dakota St. by a score of 56-3 last week, and Arkansas St. by a score of 33-15 in week one. The Illini covered the 27 point line against SDSU, while failing to cover the 19.5 point line against Arkansas St.
Arizona St. features a wide-open passing attack centered around quarterback Brock Osweiler, who threw for 353 yards and 3 TDs against Missouri last week in his coming out party as a first-year starter. Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase is in his second season as a starter, and has thrown for 369 yards and 2 TDs while running for 117 yards and 2 TDs on the ground this season. He leads an offense is #1 in the nation in 3rd down efficiency with a 21 for 29 (72.4%) conversion rate. The Illini are primarily a running team, ranking 8th in the country with 283 yards per game on the ground after leading the Big 10 in rushing with 246.1 YPG last season. On defense, the Illini are starting a pair of inexperienced safeties in Supo Sanni and sophomore Steve Hull.
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Arizona St. vs. Illinois Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Arizona State Sun Devils +2.5
@ Illinois (FL.) Fighting Illini -2.5
Over 57 (-110)
Under 57 (-110)
Arizona St. vs. Illinois Pick:
The Sun Devils and the Illini have not met since September of 1988 in Tempe, when ASU upset the favored (19.5 points) visitors by a score of 21-16. The under is 9-3 in ASU’s last 12 non-conference games, and 6-2 in their last 8 against the Big 10. ASU is 7-3-2 ATS in their last 12 games overall. The over is 7-1 in Illinois’ last 8 games as a home favorite, 8-3 in their last 11 games overall as a favorite and 7-3 in their last 10 games against the PAC-12. ASU dropped their road game at Wisconsin to a team that tied for the Big 10 title by a score of 20-19 last season. Illinois has not started 3-0 since 2001.
This game will be the first real test for the Illini, ASU showed great resiliency last week in coming back to defeat a ranked Missouri team in overtime after blowing an 14-point lead in the 4th quarter. This is first nationally-ranked non-conference opponent to come to Illinois Memorial Stadium since 2001, ASU has played competitively on the road against a quality Big 10 opponent as recently as last year, and the Sun Devils will feature an offensive attack that is very different from what the Illini are used to facing. Coach Dennis Erikson’s sophisticated passing attack will be too much for the young Illini secondary to handle, and if Illinois does not generate a pass rush against Osweiler things could get ugly early on for them. The Illinois offense is not equipped to come back from a large deficit should they fall behind early, and in the end they will not be able to keep up with ASU’s high-flying attack. Illinois’ best chance to win is to run the ball and eat up the clock, but ASU’s ability to score quickly form anywhere on the field will be tough to defend for the entire game. Take Arizona St. as a slight underdog that is more than capable of beating an un-tested Illinois team on the road.