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Illinois Michigan State Betting – Improving Illini Try To Ambush New-Look Spartans

Posted by Blake Frazier on 10/14/2010 3:50:42 PM
illinois michigan state betting

The Illinois Fighting Illini have made good coaching adjustments this season. The Michigan State Spartans have become a tougher team this season. The teams meet this Saturday.

NCAA football betting: Illinois Fighting Illini @ Michigan State Spartans

Online Betting Odds: Michigan State -7

Why To Bet On Illinois

Playing at a higher level and at a much faster tempo than it did in previous weeks, Illinois raced past the Penn State Nittany Lions by 20 points last weekend on the road, before more than 100,000 Penn State fans and iconic coach Joe Paterno. Illinois' 33-13 blowout of a proud program served as a testament to the improvements that are taking place in Champaign. Coach Ron Zook’s assistants clearly undressed the Penn State coaching staff, which features not just Paterno, but veteran offensive coordinator Galen Hall and lauded defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. The Illini, in both scheme and execution, easily outclassed Penn State on both sides of the ball. From start to finish, the Illini dominated and gave the Big Ten an important eye-opening development.

The nature of Illinois’ superiority was comprehensive against Penn State. The Illini scored 20 points in the second quarter – including a pick-six against Penn State quarterback Robert Bolden – to forge a 20-13 halftime lead. Then after halftime, the visitors shut out the Nittany Lions’ offense, while draining the clock with the artfully evasive running of quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who ran for 61 yards on the afternoon while throwing for 151. Illinois ran for 282 yards against Penn State thanks to Scheelhaase and running back Mikel Leshoure, who romped for 119 yards and benefited from the sleight-of-hand Scheelhaase used to throw PSU’s defense off balance. The Nittany Lions often failed to gauge where the ball was being handed off in the Illinois backfield.

Scheelhaase’s ball handling, combined with shrewd play calling from Illinois offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, enabled the Illini to keep Penn State guessing. If Scheelhaase plays as well against Michigan State, and if Petrino - a fabulous new addition to Zook's staff - continues to provide his quarterback with a quality game plan, Illinois will have a very good chance to take this game to the wire. Knowing Michigan State's longstanding tendency to lose a midseason game it should win, Illinois could swoop into East Lansing and pull off a surprise. After all, few people felt Illinois would win outright at Penn State.

Why To Bet On Michigan State

It's true that the Spartans often lose October games that they should win. Last year, they lost to the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Oct. 31. In 2007, they fell at home to the Northwestern Wildcats on the sixth day of October. In 2006, Sparty fell at Indiana by 25 points on Oct. 28. Michigan State has had to live with an identity crisis and a penchant for slipping on the banana peel at some point in a regular season, with a successful 2008 season being an exception and not the rule. The longstanding challenge for this program has been to maintain poise and mental toughness during the middle stretch of the season, so that November games can mean something.

This year, it certainly seems that Michigan State is beginning to learn how to carry itself on the gridiron.

This past Saturday, Michigan State went to Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines. The Spartans entered the game as an underdog precisely because of their history, not necessarily because of the way they matched up against the rival Wolverines. Michigan State is a more balanced and physical team than Michigan, and when 60 minutes had been played in the Big House, Sparty owned a 34-17 win that was never in doubt over the final 20 minutes of regulation. The Spartans punished Michigan's soft defense while picking off Wolverines’ quarterback (and Heisman Trophy candidate) Denard Robinson three times. Michigan State might have been an unproven team before that 17-point thrashing of Michigan, but now it certainly appears that the Spartans aren't the same old Spartans. They don't fold, they don't wilt, and they execute under pressure. As long as they continue to do what they've been doing, they should hammer Illinois into submission. The Illini don't have the polished passer who can dissect MSU's secondary or pile up enough points to win. MSU's balanced offense, which is thriving due to quarterback Kirk Cousins' superb decision-making, will make life difficult for Illinois' defense, which feasted on a Penn State freshman last week but must now encounter a formidable challenge.

How The Game Will Play Out

Michigan State will indeed maintain its focus and its form, while Illinois – which looked good against an awful Penn State team – will be exposed by a clearly superior opponent. Take Michigan State in a game that shouldn't be terribly close.

Illinois Michigan State Betting Pick: Michigan State

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