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Illinois Fighting Illini 2014 NCAA Football Gambling Odds & Predictions

2014-15 Football Previews – (Big 10) – Fighting Illini

Illinois put their faith in Tim Beckman a couple years ago, and so far it hasn’t worked out. Tim Beckman is definitely on the hot seat now. If Illinois doesn’t win at least six games this year to become bowl eligible, I would expect Beckman to be on his way out of Champaign.

Big Ten 2014-2015 College Football Preview – Illinois Fighting Illini (Link)
Head Coach: Tim Beckman
2013 Record: 4-8
Illinois Odds to win the National Championship: +200,000
Season Win Total: 4.5

Illinois is in the easier side of the new Big Ten divisions, but they drew both Ohio State and Penn State out of the East. Illinois’ defense was historically bad last year, and they finished minus 10 in turnover margin. They allowed 52 points against Indiana and 56 against Wisconsin.

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Ohio State put up 60 points on this Fighting Illini defense. Will things be any different this year for the Fighting Illini?

Team Strengths:

Wes Lunt won the Oklahoma State quarterback job as a freshman, but got injured and then lost the job. He transferred over to Illinois to continue his career. If Lunt won the job with Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State, then he must have some talent.

Lunt is known as a guy who makes good decisions with the football, which is obviously a huge positive for a team that has had turnover problems.

The most experienced and most talented unit on the entire roster is the offensive line. Illinois has a very good center to lead the way in Alex Hill. Hill is a 6’3 315 pound beast who will be opening some holes in the middle of the line.
[soliloquy id=”82219″]
This is a big offensive line that should have a size advantage against most teams they play against.

Team Weaknesses:

Illinois returns its entire group in the secondary, but is that really a good thing when the group has been so awful in the last two seasons? Opposing quarterbacks completed 65.3% of their passes against Illinois last season.

They also allowed 25 touchdown passes and intercepted only three passes. I know returning players can be helpful, but when they have been this bad, I’d be worried if I was an Illinois fan.

Despite having a strong offensive line, Illinois hasn’t been able to run the ball the last couple years. Ferguson is a speedster who can really go when he gets into the open field, but he hasn’t been finding the open field often enough. With the same guys back in the backfield this year, how can we really expect this unit to get significantly better?

Beckman’s teams have been horrible at stopping the run. Last year, Illinois allowed 239 rushing yards per game. That was the most rushing yards they have allowed per game since 1978.

Illinois’ defensive front lacks a big run stuffer in the middle of the defense, and I see no reason to expect this group to get much better this year.

The Fighting Illini lack depth and talent at the wide receiver position. Lunt is a quality quarterback, but he might not have the weapons needed around him.

2014-2015 Illinois Football Prediction: 4-8

Illinois looks like a very similar team to last year. The Fighting Illini might jump out to a decent start to the season because of an easy non-conference slate, but Illinois isn’t going to get many wins in the Big Ten this year.

Their home game against Purdue could be the only conference game they are favored in.

Beckman will likely be gone after this season.

Illinois Football Schedule

  • 8/30/14 TBD YSU
  • 9/6/14 TBD WKU
  • 9/13/14 4:00 PM ET @WASH
  • 9/20/14 TBD TXST
  • 9/27/14 9:00 PM ET @NEB
  • 10/4/14 TBD PUR
  • 10/11/14 TBD @WIS
  • 10/25/14 TBD MINN
  • 11/1/14 8:00 PM ET @OSU
  • 11/15/14 TBD IOWA
  • 11/22/14 TBD PSU
  • 11/29/14 TBD @NW

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