Big Ten Betting Preview: Iowa A Two-Score Road Favorite Against Surging Illinois

Written By Drew Ellis on December 2, 2020

The Iowa Hawkeyes may not be eligible for the Big Ten Championship in 2020, but they could still have the best record in the Big Ten West.

Riding a four-game win streak, No. 24 Iowa hits the road this week to face Illinois on Saturday.

Oddsmakers are looking for the Hawkeyes to continue their hot streak. Do Iowa sports bettors feel the same?

How to watch Iowa at Illinois

  • What: No. 24 Iowa (4-2, 4-2 Big Ten) at Illinois (2-3, 2-3)
  • When: 2:30 p.m. CST, Saturday, Dec. 5
  • Where: Memorial Stadium in Champaign, IL
  • TV: FS1 or Big Ten Network
  • Online Livestream: FOX Sports Go
  • Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network, AM 600 WMT NewsRadio
  • Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 136; XM Channel 207
  • Online Radio Stream:
  • Live Stats:

Oddsmakers like Iowa by two scores

The oddsmakers are all in agreement for Saturday’s game when it comes to the point spread:

Iowa at Illinois Week 14 OddsDraftKings FanDuelPointsBetWilliam Hill
Point spread
(-110 juice unless noted)
IOWA -13.5 -113
ILLINI +13.5 -108
IOWA -13.5 -112
ILLINI +13.5 -108
IOWA -13.5
ILLINI +13.5
IOWA -13.5
ILLINI +13.5
MoneylineIOWA -590
IOWA -650
IOWA -521
IOWA -550
Total points
(-110 juice unless noted)
O 50.5 -108
U 50.5 -113
O 49.5 -114
U 49.5 -106
O 50
U 50
O 50
U 50

Across the board, Iowa is listed as a 13.5-point road favorite against Illinois, with the juice varying by the sportsbook.

For the moneyline, Iowa is the heavy favorite with lines ranging from -521 to -650. Illinois has odds ranging from +380 to +440.

When it comes to the over/under, the total is ranging from 49.5 to 50.5 points, depending on the sportsbook.

Iowa inching closer to .500 against Illinois

The series history between these two teams is pretty competitive despite recent success for Iowa.

Over a total of 75 meetings, Illinois holds a 38-35-2 advantage against the Hawkeyes.

However, Iowa has dominated the recent series. Along with winning six straight meetings, the Hawkeyes have also won 11 of the last 12 in the series.

Iowa sports bettors should note that the road team has performed well at the betting window, covering in five of the last six meetings.

Being a road favorite has gone well for Iowa as well. The Hawkeyes are 20-7 against the spread in their last 27 games as a road favorite.

The public betting is jumping on Iowa, thus far. The Hawkeyes are getting 65% of the wagers as the lofty road favorite.

Hawkeyes look for fifth straight win

After a tough 0-2 start to the season, Iowa has now rattled off four consecutive wins following a 26-20 win at home over Nebraska last Friday.

The Hawkeyes are a game behind Northwestern in the Big Ten West, but the Wildcats won’t have a game this week due to Minnesota having a COVID-19 outbreak.

Because of that, Northwestern will get the spot in the Big Ten Championship game even if it loses its finale against Illinois next week. The Wildcats would be 5-2, while Iowa would be 6-2 if it wins out. Despite that, the Wildcats beat Iowa 21-20 earlier in the season and will play for the title.

Iowa had won its previous three by at least 20 points, but the Hawkeyes had to score the final 13 points of the game to come away with the victory.

Offensively, Iowa struggled. The usually reliable ground game produced just 129 yards on 45 carries.

Spencer Petras wasn’t outstanding but did enough to win under center. He threw for 193 yards with a TD and an INT.

It was the Iowa defense that had to come through, holding Nebraska to 338 total yards while forcing two turnovers.

Nebraska accused Iowa of clapping from the sidelines and causing some snapping issues for their offense, but Kirk Ferentz laughed that off.

Iowa’s defense should be able to contain an Illinois offense that ranks 105th nationally in scoring.

Illinois avoids Ohio State, seeks third straight win

Illinois didn’t play last weekend as Ohio State was forced to cancel due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Prior to the scheduled meeting with the Buckeyes, the Illini had won back-to-back games over Rutgers and Nebraska on the road.

Illinois had much greater success offensively against Nebraska than Iowa did. The Illini tallied 490 total yards in the win, including 285 rushing yards. Mike Epstein and Chase Brown combined for 223 yards and three touchdowns on their own.

Defensively, Illinois forced Nebraska into five turnovers. Jake Hansen had an interception and a fumble recovery.

The performance against the Huskers was a fry cry from what Illinois had been doing all season. Along with their struggling offense, the Illini rank 100th nationally in total defense, allowing nearly 450 yards per game.

Starting QB Brandon Peters missed three weeks of action due to COVID-19 but returned against Nebraska and threw for 205 yards and a TD while rushing for another score. His presence on the field seems to give the Illini an added dimension on offense.

Photo by Orlando Ramirez / AP
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis has lived in Michigan his whole life and has been writing professionally 21 years. Ellis has covered anything from youth baseball in mid-Michigan, a top-25 college football program, and pro sports in the Detroit area. Always keeping busy, Ellis also has over 10 years of experience in covering sports betting, handling all major sports.

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