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By The Numbers - Illinois Preview
Rush Offense vs Illinois
Michigan O +4 (7th) vs Illinois D -4 (112th)
After two rough games against Indiana and Michigan State, Michigan's running game has bounced back nicely, albeit in losses, the last two games.
Game - Rush+
Meanwhile, in Big 10 play Illinois has been gashed three times and had decent games relative to competition against both Ohio St and Indiana
Game - Rush+
If Michigan is going to have any chance of getting to 8-4 on the season and making more than the basic step forward this year, they are going to need to dominate this matchup. There won't be a bigger advantage on the schedule this year and things should and have to come together here.
Pass Offense vs Illinois
Michigan O +0 (54) vs Illinois D -2 (88)
This matchup won't be a huge advantage for Michigan but it will be very interesting to see how Michigan manages the play calling and the run pass splits. The one thing that shouldn't happen is interceptions. Only two teams in all of 1A have gotten less value out interceptions than Illinois. Illinois has only produced 3 points of value from picks, which is a full 2 TDs less than the average 1A team. Any picks on Saturday will be a major disappointment.
Rush Defense vs Illinois
Michigan D -1 (90) vs Illinois O +0 (51)
If Illinois has one advantage this week, this is where it's at. The good news for M is that they are coming off their best performance of the season, posting a +4 against a very good Penn St rushing attack.
Game - Rush+
Illinois is also coming off a very solid +4 rushing game and has posted positive values in three of its five Big 10 games this season.
Game - Rush+
If this game gets too close for comfort, it will probably be because Illinois has found an opportunity to exploit the Michigan rush defense.
Pass Defense vs Illinois
Michigan D +3 (29) vs Illinois O -5 (110)
For all the painful big plays given up by Michigan's past defense this year, the totally of their efforts have stayed surprisingly strong. Through four Big 10 games, Michigan's pass defense has played better than average against the passing games of all four teams.
Game - Pass+
With 4 games that graded out well but didn't feel like they went well, this week presents an opportunity. Illinois has posted 2 solid games, 1 bad game and 2 total disasters against Michigan state and Ohio State.
Game - Pass+
With Illinois bringing out their third QB of the season on Saturday, you would think that would favor Michigan but with as bad as the Illini passing game has been this season, it's hard to imagine it getting worse.
For the second straight week, the Big 10's fastest paced offense will face one of the slowest. After taking on Penn State's grind it out pace last week, Michigan will face an Illinois offense that averages nearly 20% fewer possessions per game. Despite the bad loss, Michigan was able to get the number of drives they wanted last week, I would look for them to do the same again this week.
Michigan +1.1 (25) vs Illinois -0.9 (70)
Michigan should have a solid advantage over Illinois on special teams on Saturday. The kicking game and kick returns both slant heavily towards Michigan. The punt teams are virtually identical while Illinois has a slight advantage on kickoff coverage. The way to tell that Illinois is not good on special teams, however, is that they are significantly worse than Michigan on punt return, even when accounting for fumbled returns.
Going through this preview, Vegas must know something about Michigan or Illinois than I do because I have a hard time seeing this as a touchdown game.
Michigan 35 Illinois 14
Elsewhere in the Big 10:
Indiana 3 Iowa 26
Michigan St 25 Minnesota 24
NM St 0 Ohio St 31
Penn St 33 Northwestern 3
Purdue 20 Wisconsin 28
Good stuff as usual Mathlete. That MSU v. Minnesota tilt score can't be accounting for the fact that Decker is out for the rest of the season...how good is Minnesota's Passing offense when Decker isn't in there?
You're right, no accounting for Decker's absence in the Minnesota prediction. Decker's direct impact on Minnesota was +7 a game but receiver's impact is generally overstated. His effectiveness was greatly reduced the last three weeks and overall in those three games Minnesota was about -1 in the passing game vs +2 before his effectiveness was reduced. So I would put his value to Minnesota's offense somewhere between a FG and a TD per game.
Curious as to your results so far.
I do a pick for every college game and so far this year the results have been right around 50%, definitely nothing to get excited about. I use the same system for the NFL and it has been a lot more successful. Started picking games in Week 3 (needed two weeks of data) and since then have gone 48-23 against the spread.
PSU 28 UM 24
UM 38 MSU 31