Game: Maryland Terrapins at Illinois Fighting Illini
Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
Odds: Terrapins -7, Illinois +7
An interesting Big Ten matchup takes place in Illinois as the Fighting Illini (1-2) host 2-0 Maryland. Illinois head coach Bret Bielema got his new team off to a good start with a 30-22 win over Nebraska in the season opener. It’s been all downhill since then though for Bielema and the Illini. They lost at home to UTSA and then got blown out by Virginia 42-14 on the road last week.
Maryland, on the other hand, notched a pretty impressive 30-24 win over West Virginia in Week 1 and then blew out FCS Howard 62-0 last week. The offense has been rolling with QB Taulia Tagovailoa in charge. He has completed over 76 percent of his passes for 606 yards and six touchdowns in the Terps two wins. Tagovailoa also has thrown six touchdown passes and has yet to throw an interception.
The Terrapins offense could present some serious problems for Illinois and its defense. So far this season, the Illini have been playing like a scout team allowing opponents to roll over them at will. Illinois is allowing 481.7 yards to its opponents through three games. That has led to almost 34 points per game. That is not typical of a Bielema-coached team and giving up almost five touchdowns a game will not produce many wins. It definitely won’t produce wins when the offense only averages 24.7 points per game.
These two teams have only played once before. Back in 2018, they played at Maryland. The Terrapins were a 16.5-point favorite and covered. Maryland rolled up 431 rushing yards (712 total) on the way to a 63-33 victory. That was 2018 though and both teams now have new head coaches. Mike Locksley has taken over at Maryland and the Terps offense has been fun to watch. This is Bielema’s first year at Illinois and it has shown.
Prior to Bielema, it was Lovie Smith who tried to revive the Illinois program. He didn’t have much success and now the Illini are 1-5 in their last six games. They are also 1-5 in their last six home games and 1-5 ATS the spread as well.
Maryland has done a better job of keeping games close. The Terps are 4-2 ATS in their last six games. They have covered in both of their games this season beating West Virginia as a 2.5-point underdog and covering the 48.5-point spread with the 62-0 victory over Howard last week. Maryland is just 4-10 straight up in its last 14 games and only 2-12 in its last 12 games on the road.
Despite Maryland’s high-powered offense, the total has gone Under in four of the Terps last five games. The Under is 4-2 in Illinois’ last six home games played against a Big Ten opponent. Tonight’s total is currently at 61.5. It’s easy to see the Terps putting up some points but not so easy to see Illinois doing the same. The Under is 6-3 in Illinois’ last nine games when the Illini are the underdog.