Charlotte 49ers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Picks and Game Preview -- 10/2/2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: Noon ET, October 2, 2021
Venue: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
Where to watch: Big Ten Network 

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Charlotte -10.5
BetMGM: Charlotte -10.5
Caesars: Charlotte -10

Season record
Charlotte: 3-1 (1-0 C-USA)
Illinois: 1-4 (1-2 Big Ten)

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Charlotte - Illinois preview and analysis


Recent form
Charlotte: won 42-39 vs. Middle Tennessee on Sept. 24
Illinois: lost 13-9 at Purdue on Sept. 25

It's the first meeting between the Charlotte 49ers and Illinois Fighting Illini and if you're a fan of average college football, boy you're in for something.

This really shouldn't be slander toward the 49ers. Take out that bleh of a loss against the Georgia State Panthers and nothing really should be said horribly in regards to their 3-1 start. Charlotte is coming off a 42-39 win over the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in a classic shootout.

Charlotte's offense put up 559 yards of total offense and had to withstand the 502 from MTSU. Senior quarterback Chris Reynolds threw for 339 yards and four touchdowns, and Grant DuBose caught two of those touchdowns to go along with nine receptions for 114 yards.

Though they didn't cover, the 49ers offense has been a constant this season, averaging almost 250 through the air and nearly 200 on the ground.

Considering the type of defense Illinois has put on the field to this point, perhaps that's not a good thing for the home team. Illinois, since winning its season opener against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, has lost four straight with a 13-9 loss at the Purdue Boilermakers to be the latest culprit.

Illinois is not the best Big Ten team, though its conference prestige is probably why the Illini are double-digit favorites. It probably also helps that they played a good Purdue team tough to the very end. 

Primarily they stayed in the game thanks to freshman running back Joshua McCray, who ran for 156 yards in his first career start. Injuries to Chase Brown allowed the Illini to put trust in the freshman, and he likely earned himself another start on Saturday.

If there's anything that will scare the 49ers it's their run defense that's allowed 235.8 per game. If Charlotte can force Artur Sitkowski to beat them with his arm, the odds of the 49ers covering increases greatly.

Prediction


The 49ers have lost 12 straight non-conference road games, but Illinois is not that great to believe they should win or even cover. Just because the nature of the beast is to hedge in situations like this, we're giving Illinois the win, but a Charlotte cover. If that offense can travel after a strong showing at home last week, there's no reason to believe the 49ers won't keep this close. Illinois wins by 6

Betting trends


Charlotte is 7-7 against the spread as an underdog.

Illinois is 2-3 ATS as a home favorite.

Players to watch


Charlotte: It feels like Victor Tucker is due for a touchdown. He’s second on the team with 285 yards on 18 receptions, but no touchdowns. Perhaps that changes.

Illinois: Isaiah Williams had only four receptions for 21 yards last week. Expect the leading receiver to get more touches.

Statistical leaders


Charlotte:
Passing: Chris Reynolds -- 924 yards, 8 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Calvin Camp -- 258 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Grant DuBose -- 323 yards, 4 TD
Defense: Markees Watts -- 3 sacks

Illinois:
Passing: Artur Sitkowski -- 611 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Joshua McCray -- 265 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Isaiah Williams -- 251 yards, 1 TD
Defense: Jer’Zahn Newton -- 2.5 sacks

Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert football picks today. And if you enjoyed this Charlotte - Illinois prediction, be sure to drop by every day for our daily NCAA projections and previews.

Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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