Illinois vs. Kansas Odds & Predictions: Value with the Road Underdog

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Week 2 of the college football season continues with an intriguing Friday-night matchup as the Illinois Fighting Illini take on the Kansas Jayhawks.

Both teams enter this game 1-0 on the season, and a win could put either team in the top 25. Illinois barely escaped against Toldeo last week, and Kansas took care of a clearly outmatched Missouri State team.

Current odds: Kansas is playing as a point favorite with the total sitting at . If you need help picking a side, we have got you covered as we break down the Illinois vs. Kansas odds and give our best prediction.

Read: How to bet on CFB | Heisman Trophy odds | NCAAF National Championship odds

Illinois vs. Kansas Odds: Spread, Moneyline, Total

Here are the Illinois vs. Kansas odds from some of the best sports betting apps:

Illinois Fighting Illini (1-0, 0-1 ATS)

The Illini lost a lot from last year’s team, including their starting quarterback. Luckily, they added a big name via the transfer portal in Ole Miss transfer Luke Altmyer. He brings a true dual-threat style that Illinois has not seen in quite some time. 

In his first game, Altmyer passed for 206 yards and two touchdowns and was also the leading rusher for the Illini, with 69 yards on nine attempts. Last season, Illinois leaned on Chase Brown and a terrific defense to win games. While the alphas of the defense and Brown are gone, this offense still lives with the run, and the defense is insanely talented again this season. 

While they had trouble stopping the run against Toledo, Kansas loves to pass the ball, and Illinois has a good defensive secondary headlined by Matthew Bailey and Tahveon Nicholson. Most of their defensive talent is upfront, which will be needed against an experienced Kansas offensive line. 

Illinois led the nation in scoring defense last season, and they look like a group that can replicate that production this season. Having a top-five pick in Devon Witherspoon depart certainly is a big blow, but there is more than enough experience and talent to compensate for it. 

Offensively, they are returning three starting offensive linemen, who played very well against Toledo, and the skill room is very talented and deep.

Head coach Bret Bielema still likes to run the ball and play a physical style of offense. While they opened up the playbook a little last week, expect Illinois to try and slow this fast-paced Kansas team down and keep the pace on their side. If they can accomplish that, they will limit the amount of possessions Kansas’ offense gets, which is how they will win the game. 

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Kansas Jayhawks (1-0, 0-1 ATS)

We did not learn much from Kansas last week. Not only did they play an overwhelmed Missouri State team, but starting quarterback Jalon Daniels missed the game. He is listed as probable to play against Illinois, making the life of new Illini defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard much more difficult. 

Last season, Daniels played in nine games and accounted for 25 touchdowns as he led an offense that put up over 35 points per game. That explosive unit from last year brings back 10 starters, including four on the offensive line. Last week, the offensive line allowed no sacks, but they played a team that probably had no business being on the same field. 

The Illini front seven will be a different story, but Kansas has a lot of experience up front, and they brought in former five-star tackle Logan Brown from Wisconsin. Combine that with both quarterbacks from last season and every running back and wide receiver, and you have an elite offense. 

The other side of the ball is where things get a little nasty. While they are bringing back seven starters, this unit gave up 35.6 points per game, and they gave up a lot of third downs, which is how this Kansas offense stays off the field and loses rhythm. 

Kansas beefed up the defensive line through the transfer portal, but they will be tested, as Illinois will look to run the ball and mix in the pass when needed. If Kansas has trouble with big-chunk plays and getting off the field again in this game, they will have a challenging path to victory.

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Illinois vs. Kansas Betting Trends & Notes

Illinois

  • Illinois is 2-4 ATS in its last six games.
  • Illinois is 8-1 ATS in its last nine road games.
  • The total has gone UNDER in six of Illinois’ last seven games played in September. 
  • Illinois is 1-6 SU in its last seven games against the Big 12. 

Kansas

  • Kansas is 0-5 ATS in its last five games.
  • The total has gone OVER in five of Kansas’ last five games. 
  • Kansas is 5-2 SU in its last seven home games. 
  • Kansas is 3-9 ATS in its last 12 games when playing as the favorite. 

Kansas was 3-0 ATS as a favorite last season, and a big thanks should be given to the offense for that. They covered by an average of 11.6 points in those three games, and the offense scored 42.6 points per game. 

Outside of last season, they have been pretty terrible at covering as a favorite. They are 21-9 in their last 30 games as a favorite, which spans back to 2008. But they are only 11-19 ATS, including going 3-9 ATS in their last 12. 

Meanwhile, Illinois also burst onto the scene last season, but they are no stranger to being a road underdog. They have covered six of their last seven when playing as a dog on the road, and they are 19-11 ATS in their last 30 games when labeled as the underdog. 

Conference previews: SEC odds | Big 10 odds | Pac 12 odds | ACC odds | Big 12 odds

Illinois vs. Kansas Prediction: Illini Pick up Big Road Victory

Kansas was such a fun team to watch and bet on last season. The same can be said this season, as they’re bringing back the majority of their starters. The problem is that the defense is also bringing a lot back, and they were terrible last season. 

Illinois probably should have lost last week, but they have the recipe to beat this team or at least slow them down. Not only can they control the pace and keep the Jayhawks offense off the field, but Kansas still has some injury concerns at the most crucial position. 

Although Daniels is expected to play, head coach Lance Leipold has not yet decided if he will start over Jason Bean. Having that uncertainty at quarterback will be a challenge for a team that needs the offense to be elite on every drive. 

Luckily, both players have proven they can handle running the offense. This Illinois defense is going to be the toughest challenge they face, maybe all season, especially on the defensive line. Although Kansas is loaded with experience, we saw this unit struggle against good pass rushes last season. 

Illinois will play at their tempo, limiting the scoring opportunities for Kansas. If the defense can just get a few stops, which they certainly can and will, Illinois will keep this game close. The Illinois vs. Kansas odds favor the home team, but we are going to rock with the Illini and the points.

Illinois vs. Kansas Pick: Illinois

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How To Watch Illinois vs. Kansas

  • Date: Friday, Sept. 8, 2023
  • Kickoff Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium — Lawrence, KS
  • Where to Watch: ESPN2
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About the Author
DJ Corrigan

DJ Corrigan

Writer
DJ Corrigan is a sports betting writer for Gaming Today and has been covering the world of wagering since his days at Ohio State University. Corrigan's love of betting the Over and chasing the hungry dogs has led him to a career crunching numbers with an emphasis on NCAAF, NCAAB, NFL, and MLB betting.

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