Illinois Looks to Pull Off Road Upset Against No. 21 South Florida in Week 3
The Illinois Fighting Illini’ will look to remain unbeaten when they hit the road to take on the similarly unbeaten and 21st-ranked South Florida Bulls in an intriguing pairing that gets underway on Friday live from Raymond James Stadium at 7:00 PM with this contest airing live on ESPN.
Now, let’s find out which one of these teams will suffer their first loss of the season.
Illinois Vs USF College Football Week 3 Odds & Analysis
Illinois Fighting Illini (2-0) at No. 21 USF Bulls (2-0)
When: Friday, September 15, 2017 at 7:00 PM ET
Where: Raymond James Stadium
Odds: USF Bulls -17.5
Why Bet the Illinois Fighting Illini Odds at -17.5
The Illinois Fighting Illini (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) squeaked past Ball State 24-21 in their opener and beat Western Kentucky 20-7in Week 2, but their young defense will be seriously tested by a South Florida team that has scored at least 30 points in a whopping 19 straight games.
“They’re being put in situations that are new to them each week,” head coach Lovie Smith told reporters last week. “But, again, they’ve stepped up to the plate, and they’re taking advantage of it.”
Quarterback Chayce Crouch completed 14 of 25 passes for 107 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions while running back Mike Epstein added 111 rushing yards on 21 carries. The Fighting Illini’ forced two turnovers in the win and won the time of possession battle handily by keeping the ball for almost 38 minutes. For the season, Crouch is completing just 54.5 percent of his passes for 252 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Defensively, Illinois is allowing just 14 points per game under the guidance of the defensive-minded Smith. Linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips leads the Illinois Fighting Illini with 22 tackles, while Bobby Roundtree has added three sacks.
Why Bet the South Florida Bulls Odds at +17.5
No. 21 South Florida Bulls (2-0 SU, 0-2 ATS) didn’t play last week with their home date against UConn being suspended because of Hurricane Irma. The Bulls won five straight home games and are getting some fantastic play from senior quarterback Quinton Flowers who has passed for 398 yards with four touchdowns and one interception through two games. The Bulls have beaten San Jose State 42-22 and Stonybrook 31-17.
Wide receivers, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Tyre McCants have combined for 204 receiving yards and two touchdowns and the Bulls defense has been solid so far with linebacker Nico Sawtelle recording a team-high 16 tackles and defensive back Devin Abraham picking off two passes.
"What we have to understand is it really doesn’t matter where you start. It’s where you finish," Strong said of his nationally-ranked team. "The thing we can’t do is get complacent, get full of ourselves," Strong added.
Illinois Vs USF College Football Week 3 Expert Analysis and Pick
The Illinois Fighting Illini may be unbeaten, but they won’t be for long as I fully expect South Florida to handle their business this weekend against am Illinois team that is, like all of Smith’s former teams – seriously offensively-challenged.
Illinois is just 8-18 ATS in their last 26 road games and 3-8 ATS in their L/11 games against a team with a winning record while South Florida has gone 4-1 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning record and a robust 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 home games overall.
The Bulls are just as good as Illinois defensively, but they’re light years ahead of their Week 3 opponents when it comes to offense. Still, the spread is a bit too big for South Florida to cover against a Lovie Smith team that will play good defense and control the clock with their run-first offensive attack. Keep it simple and back Illinois to get the easy ATS cover despite losing on the road.
Pick: Illinois +17.5