Illinois Baylor Spread Line and Texas Bowl Predictions

This year’s Texas Bowl in Houston, TX (6:00pm ET) features the Illinois Fighting Illini (6-6) out of the Big 10 taking on the Baylor Bears (7-5) of the Big 12 in their first bowl appearance since losing 10-3 to Washington St. in the 1994 Alamo Bowl. The Fighting Illini dropped two of their last three games of the season, including a 25-23 loss at Fresno State to end the regular season on December 3. Baylor closed the season with three consecutive losses including a 53-24 shellacking at the hands of Oklahoma to close the season on November 20.

The Fighting Illini feature a strong running game on offense that ranks 13th in the nation with an average of 243.5 yards per game with junior Mikel LeShoure serving as the focal point. LeShoure has run for 1,522 yards and 17 touchdowns on the campaign while averaging 6.0 YPC. The Illini average 32.1 points per game and have dual-threat quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase calling the signals. On defense the Illini have allowed 24.2 PPG and 340.4 YPG, both ranking in the top half nationally.

The Bears feature an explosive offense that averaged 32.6 PPG and a whopping 480.4 YPG, 13th best in the nation. Quarterback Robert Griffin ranks 7th in the nation on total offense, averaging 315.5 YPG by himself. Senior running back Jay Finley with 1,155 yards rushing and receiver Kendall Wright with 66 receptions for 825 yards, are two more playmakers that the Illini will have to be concerned with. Griffin spreads the ball around to all of his receivers as four of them have at least 40 receptions, so Illinois will not be able to key on a specific target for Baylor. The Bears’ defense, and pass defense in particular has been woeful. Baylor ranks 96th in the nation with 420.2 YPG allowed and 114th in the nation with 267 YPG allowed.

The Fighting Illini is 7-16 ATS in their last 23 games on grass and 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games as an underdog. Baylor is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games on grass and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall. The under is 14-4 in Illinois’ last 18 games on grass and the over is 5-1 in their last 6 games overall. The over is 13-4 in Baylor’s last 17 games as a favorite and 7-1 in their last 8 games overall.

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Illinois vs. Baylor Spread, Line and Betting Odds:

Spread:

Illinois Fighting Illini +1
@ Baylor Bears -1

Game Total:

Over 62 (-110)
Under 62 (-110)

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Illinois vs. Baylor Predictions for Texas Bowl:

Spread Prediction (Top Play) – The Fighting Illini has a superior run defense, allowing 127.6 YPG, the 33rd best run defense in the nation. Baylor is too explosive for Illinois to shut them down completely, but expect the Fighting Illini, to score enough points to keep pace for most of the game. In the end, Baylor has too much firepower on offense for the Illini to keep up. The Bears’ playmakers and superior speed will allow them to overcome their woeful defense and hold off their plodding, run-oriented Big 10 opponents. Illinois does not have the passing game necessary to keep up in a shoot out, even against the soft secondary of Baylor.

PREDICTION (TOP PLAY) – Baylor -1

Over/Under Prediction – Take the over here as the recent trends for both Illinois and Baylor favor a high-scoring contest. Expect Illinois to pass more than they normally would against the weak Baylor secondary and for LeShoure to have a big day as well. Illinois faded down the stretch and their defense will have a great deal of difficulty keeping up with Baylor’s speed and athleticism at the skill positions.

PREDICTION – Over 62