Illinois vs. Michigan NCAAF Week 12 Top Picks: Will Wolverines Stay Undefeated Before Facing Ohio State?

blake corum michigan wolverines ncaa football
Blake Corum #2 of the Michigan Wolverines runs the ball against Xavier Henderson #3 of the Michigan State Spartans during the first quarter at Michigan Stadium. Nic Antaya/Getty Images/AFP

The Illinois Fighting Illini were hoping to face Michigan or Ohio State in two weeks. But after two straight losses to Michigan State and Purdue, the Illinois Fighting Illini are on life support when it comes to making the Big Ten Championship.

Illinois still has a fighting chance! Did you see what I did there?

The Michigan Wolverines are 10-0 and in a look-ahead spot. They’ll have to go undefeated to earn a chance at the College Football Playoff. The Big Ten is a much weaker conference than the SEC, and that’s not going to help the Wolverines.

They’ll play Illinois this weekend and then face Ohio State in the final weekend. If Ohio State and Michigan win this weekend, the winner of next week’s matchup between Ohio State and Michigan will get to play in the Big Ten Championship.

Therefore, this is a massive game for both teams.

Here are our picks and predictions for this matchup on Saturday’s NCAAF odds board.

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Michigan Wolverines

Saturday, November 19, 2022 – 12:00 PM EST at Michigan Stadium

Can Illinois End Losing Streak?

The Illinois Fighting Illini have lost two straight games. It once looked like Illinois had the Big Ten West locked up. But that’s not the case anymore.

Still, Illinois has been a tremendous football team this year. They’ve scored 24.7 points per game while allowing just 12.5 points per game. The offense is currently averaging 402.2 yards, while the defense has given up 246.9 yards per game.

Those types of stats are going to win a lot of games.

Illinois’ Lineup for This Game

Tommy DeVito has come in and played well for Illinois. He’s thrown 15 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He’s also allowed the running game to take over.

Chase Brown is questionable for this game. But he’s rushed 280 times for 1442 yards with seven touchdowns. He’s performing just as well as Blake Corum but doesn’t have as many touchdowns.

The Defense

Meanwhile, the defense is terrific in coverage, and they’ve also dominated against the run. Teams have earned just 85.9 yards per game on the ground with 161 yards in the air. They’re suffocating on defense.

However, they haven’t faced a team like Michigan yet this season. The Big Ten West is also more manageable than the Big Ten East.

The East division has Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State. Meanwhile, the West division has teams like Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. It’s a big difference.

This is a massive challenge for Illinois, especially on the road.

Can Michigan Stay Undefeated?

Michigan has earned 460.3 yards per game with 41.4 points per game. On defense, they’ve allowed 11.2 points per game with 232.8 yards per game.

Michigan is elite in every sense of the word. They’ve averaged over 250 yards rushing with Blake Corum as the lead guy. He’s a top Heisman candidate with 227 carries for 1349 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Meanwhile, J.J. McCarthy has done well at quarterback by limiting turnovers and playing to the team’s strengths. He’s thrown 14 touchdowns and has just two interceptions. McCarthy wasn’t the team’s starter to begin the year, but when Cade McNamara went down, McCarthy took full ownership of the starting job.

He’s thrown just 213 times, while Corum has rushed 227 times. Michigan wants to run the football, like Illinois.

Michigan’s Defense

On defense, Michigan’s fundamentally sound. They’ve dominated in the run game, allowing 72.7 yards per game. They’ve also been terrific in the secondary and continue to limit the missed tackles.

Michigan’s pass rush isn’t as effective as everything else, but they’ve still got a couple of players who can make an impact.

The Pick

Neither defense has allowed more than 247 yards per game this season. Both offenses love to run the football and keep the clock moving.

Illinois has given up 12.5 points per game, while Michigan’s allowed 11.2 points per game.

This will be Illinois’ toughest test offensively. They’ve scored nearly 25 points per game but will struggle against Michigan’s defense, especially if Chase Brown is unavailable or playing at less than 100%.

On the other hand, Illinois’ defense has been exceptional against the run. If Illinois can force third downs, there will be times when the Fighting Illini can get off the field thanks to a third-down stop.

Therefore, we’re taking the Under 42 in this matchup.

NCAAF Pick: Under 42 (-109) at BetRivers