Time: Noon ET
Venue: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
Where to watch: Big Ten Network
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Wisconsin -7
FanDuel: Wisconsin -7
BetMGM: Wisconsin -7
Caesars: Wisconsin -7
Illinois: 3-1 (0-1 Big Ten)
Wisconsin: 2-2 (0-1 Big Ten)
What a big week and some fun shake up in the top 25, as we enter Week 5 of the college football campaign. And what a week it was for our own Wayne Root with a 7-1-0 stint to continue what has been a strong start for our champion handicappers through the early stages of this college football season. But now things are going to get interesting with conference play underway and some big-time matchups in the coming weeks. You're going to want to follow our top-notch handicappers if you want to get on this action. Make sure you visit our Best Bets page to find out more.
Illinois - Wisconsin preview, analysis and prediction
Illinois: won 31-0 vs. Chattanooga
Wisconsin: lost 52-21 at No. 3 Ohio State
I’ve yet to fully figure out if this 3-1 start for the Illinois Fighting Illini is legit or not, but I can tell you they’re more legit right now than their opponent this weekend. Illinois is off to a strong start, the lone loss being a 23-20 road loss to Indiana. Since then, the Illini have outscored their next two opponents 55-3, and that includes a 24-3 win at home over Virginia, a rather tough opponent from the ACC. Last week was a much better performance from Illinois in a 31-0 win over Tennessee-Chattanooga at home. Chase Brown continued his strong start to become the first Illinois running back to run for 100 yards in five consecutive games, finishing with 108 and a touchdown. Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns in a game that had no business even lasting as long as it did. This is what we get the running clock for.
“I think we're just beginning to understand who we are,” Illinois coach Bret Bielema said. “I really like the way this group works.”
Bielema has this group running at the right time and you wonder just how far they can go this year. DeVito is looking like a really good quarterback, which isn’t something Illinois has been able to say since the Juice Williams days and the Rose Bowl appearance. Quite the weird flex to be thinking of at this moment, but when you’re a program that hasn’t had much to celebrate over the years you take what you can get.
“The sky’s the limit for this defense, man,” Jartavius Martin said, who had an interception in the first half.
Things started off well for the Wisconsin Badgers, and then everything went downhill in an instant. That loss to Washington State hit the Badgers to their core. And then to follow it with a 52-21 loss to Ohio State over the weekend to show that maybe they’re not the best team of the bunch says a lot to where the program is right now and why Illinois is a better team than them at the moment. Wisconsin was held to just 296 total yards of offense with quarterback Graham Mertz looking horrendous by throwing for 94 yards on 11 of 20 passing, one touchdown and one interception. The touchdown didn’t come until 9:46 remaining in the fourth quarter when they were down 45-7.
"We really didn't get off to a good start," Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. "We didn't respond on the field the way we needed to."
That’s putting it mildly. The Badgers have never been a good offensive team outside of a running back or two, and haven’t been great at quarterback since the Russell Wilson days. If the defense is playing just as bad, Wisconsin is not a threat in the Big Ten and teams like Illinois can be seen as right for the picking. Given that the spread is favorable in Illinois’ direction, it should be a much closer game than anticipated.
I have never been so tempted to take Illinois with the seven points, and you should feel the same. Wisconsin is on the ropes right now and if a program that hasn’t had a lot to cheer for gets some momentum, it only spells good things for Illinois. Give me the Fighting Illini with the points and be bold to take the moneyline. Illinois by 6
Illinois is 10-8 ATS against conference opponents in its last 18 games.
Under is 11-3 in the last 14 when Illinois comes off an under the previous game.
Wisconsin is 6-7 ATS in its last 13 as a home favorite.
Wisconsin is 1-3 ATS in its last four off a loss by 10 or more to a conference opponent.
Passing: Tommy DeVito -- 951 yards, 9 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Chase Brown -- 604 yards, 3 TD
Receiving: Isaiah Williams -- 260 yards, 2 TD
Passing: Graham Mertz -- 791 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Braelon Allen -- 497 yards, 6 TD
Receiving: Skyler Bell -- 201 yards, 2 TD
Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert football picks today. And if you enjoyed this Illinois Fighting Illini - Wisconsin Badgers prediction, be sure to drop by every day for our daily college football projections and previews.