Doc's Sports 2011 Illinois Fighting Illini Football Betting Preview
by Doc - 8/18/2011
Predicted overall record 9-3 (5-3 in the Big Ten)
Click this link for the 2011 Illinois Fighting Illini football schedule.
As the 2010 season came winding down for Illinois, few football experts felt Coach Ron Zook would be around for the 2011 season. There’s no question that the Illini’s bowl victory over Baylor, 38-14, kept Zook on the sidelines. That big win could also give this team a boast for the upcoming season. The talent is certainly there. But the question still remains can Coach Zook and his staff make a move up the Big Ten ladder? Few experts would believe that he could, but I feel that this is going to be the year of the Illini.
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Strengths: The schedule favors Illinois this season as they do not have to play Nebraska or Iowa. They also have the advantage of playing road games against Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, and Minnesota. In my opinion all four of those games are winnable.
The offensive line is talented and experienced and should give QB Nathan Scheelhaase time to move around the pocket. He had more than 1,000 yards rushing last year and I expect him to put up similar numbers in 2011.
Weakness: The defense as a whole must improve for this team to make a run up the standings. The defensive line and linebackers have talent, but they lack experience. Illinois must find a way to play to their potential for four quarters. Past year’s teams have faltered down the stretch. Zook is just 9-21 in games decided by 10 points or less.
Favorable Win against the Spread: Oct. 15 vs. Ohio State. Illinois could be an underdog depending on the outcome of the Arizona State and Northwestern games. They lost to Ohio State in 2010, 24-13, but did cover since they were a 16-point underdog. QB Scheelhaase made his first career start in that game and it was a closer game than the score would indicate. Ohio State will be coming off a road game against Nebraska the week before and they will be an underdog in that game. There will be no mercy from them in this game as well, as Illinois will prevail.
Favorable Loss against the Spread: Oct. 1 vs. Northwestern. There’s a good chance the Illini will be undefeated and that will put them at least a touchdown favorite in this game. The score of this game was tied at 24 last year at Wrigley Field before Illinois exploded late to win the game, 48-27. QB Dan Persa was out in that game for Northwestern and without him this team really struggled. He will be behind center to start the season for them and Northwestern will be coming off a bye before this game takes place. The dog is certainly the only side that I would consider.
Closing Thoughts: The talent is there for this team to make a run this season, and with a favorable schedule I feel it would be a disappointment if this team did not make a Jan. 2 bowl game or better (remember, Jan. 1 is on a Sunday next year). It’s important for this team to start strong and a win over Arizona State will give them a lot of confidence. Playing eight home games is a plus and now is the year for Zook and his team to play to their ability. If they do not, he will likely be given his pink slip come December.
Doc’s Sports is set to embark on their 40th year in the sports handicapping business this football season. Yes, Doc started the company back in 1971 and still spends his weekends in front of the TV watching numerous games throughout the day. We are again expecting a monster season in college football anchored by our weekly selections from the Big Ten Conference. Our main office is located right in the heart of Big Ten Country and each year we fully expect to hit 2 out of every 3 college football picks we release from this conference. Jump on board now with a full season football picks package from Doc’s Sports!
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