College Football Picks, Predictions, and Previews: The Way It Oughtta Be

Illinois vs. Northwestern 12/12/2020 College Football Picks, Prediction, and Preview

The Illinois visits Northwestern on 12/12/2020 at 12:00PM.

Illinois and Northwestern face off in an important game for both teams as every game in this shortened season with limited or no fans in attendance means more. Illinois has a record of 2-4 this season. Northwestern is 5-1 this season. Both have players to meet and know.

Illinois Team Defense Preview

Illinois has had 64 total defensive drives this season and they yield 5.7 plays per drive. Illinois lets opponents run a lot of plays per drive and in the Fourth Quarter, this team could be gassed. Offensives should lick their lips given their inability to stop anyone, this is one of the worst defenses in the country. The Defensive Coordinator coaching search threads on Illinois message boards are flights of fantasy. Illinois opponents pass the football 45.48% of the time.Their opponents favor running the ball as opposed airing it out.

Illinois is not doing anything particularly special as far as their ability to create negative yardage plays on the ground. How effective are opposing offensive lines given what we know about their ability to force negative yardage rushing plays? Illinois can take credit for holding the offensive line of their opponent to 3.29 yards per carry. Sorry to say this about this front seven, but the best way to make an average offensive line look good is for them to face this horrid front seven. Running backs should look forward to this porous defense filled with poor tacklers who take terrible angles. They are capable of giving up a long run, which is really demoralizing when the opposing team has the ball deep in their own territory.

This Defense has had average success disrupting the flow of the opposing offense.. Getting more granual into the front seven and their ability to cause trouble, they are just average in this regard. Illinois is better at stopping the run than the pass this season.

Illinois Team Offense Preview

Illinois has had 65 drives in non-garbage time minutes and they average 5.72 plays per drive. Illinois runs a lot of plays per drive and this could wear an opposing defense down. Illinois is an average offense when it comes to staying ahead of the chains, getting into 3rd and Short scenarios, and converting on 3rd and 4th Down. Passing plays make up 40.32% of their play calls.They favor running the ball as opposed airing it out.

Illinois is not doing anything particularly special as far as their ability to avoid negative yardage plays on the ground. How effective is the offensive line given what we know about their ability to prevent negative yards on rushing plays? More than you think, thanks to the Adjusted Line Yards metric. Illinois can take credit for 2.97 yards per carry. Generally speaking, this is an average offensive line as far as their ability to set up the running game. This is a team that is rather above-average when it comes to gashing defenses. The threat of the run should force opposing to play more honest and assignment defensive football is a must. They are capable of busting out a long run, which is really good when the team has the ball in their own territory.

Defenses have had average success disrupting the flow of the Illinois Offense. Front sevens are causing an average amount of trouble for the Offense. Illinois has shown themselves to be a better running team than passing team this season.

Northwestern Team Defense Preview

Northwestern has had 75 total defensive drives this season and they yield 5.33 plays per drive. There is not much to take away here when it comes to how many plays per drive opponents run, but they are a team that falls in the average window when it comes to plays per drive. Opponents face third and long situations a lot against this defense. This is a defense that forces opponents to commit penalties, have compromised offensive line play, and fail to convert on crunch possessions. Passing plays make up 60.00% of their opponents’ play calls.They are a team that faces a lot of Air Raid Offenses.

Northwestern opponents have struggled with running the ball and this defense has crushed the spirits of their opponents with zero or negative yard plays. 4th and Short is not a cake walk against this defense, maybe passing on 4th and Short or having some sort of RPO is the way to go here because if an Offensive Coordinator thinks that they can just line and run a Quarterback Sneak or hand it off to a tailback, they are mistaken. Opponent rushing yards attributed to their offensive line this season comes out to 2.64 yards per carry. Opponent offensive lines have been simply unable to support their running games against this defense. This is a team that is getting gashed too much for the tastes of their base. Linebackers are not stopping the bleeding well enough. The breakout rushing plays are simply not happening, it is a massive reach to expect this team to give up big rushing plays.

Northwestern has made the turnover belt, chain, pads, lunch pail or whatever gimmick they use change hands a lot. This is a Defense that causes pure aggravation. Getting more granual into the front seven and their ability to cause trouble, they are just average in this regard. Northwestern has shown themselves to be better at stopping the pass than the run this season.

Northwestern Team Offense Preview

Northwestern has had 74 drives in non-garbage time minutes and they average 5.68 plays per drive. Northwestern runs a lot of plays per drive and this could wear an opposing defense down. Struggles to get ahead of the chains and convert on third and fourth down are common, the offense can stagnate. Northwestern passes the football 47.38% of the time.Relatively speaking, this is a team that favors run/pass balance.

Northwestern struggles with running the ball, getting zero or negative yard plays is disspiriting and the offensive line is not effectively making a good push. Poor playcalling, pre-snap adjustments or post-snap reads may be responsible and this could fall on the Quarterback, Offensive Coordinator, and Head Coach. Based on the Adjusted Line Yards metric, which measures the amount of credit that should be ascribed to the offensive line for a rushing play, they average 2.16 yards per carry. So what does this mean? It means that the offensive line has been incredibly disappointing in their contribution to the ground game. When it comes to getting to that second level where linebackers have not crashed down on the line of scrimmage, they are getting stopped with ease. The breakout rushing plays are simply not happening, it is a massive reach to expect this team to bust out big rushing plays.

Defenses have had average success disrupting the flow of the Northwestern Offense. Front sevens are causing an average amount of trouble for the Offense. Northwestern is a better passing team than running team this season.

The Illinois Roster

The Players to Watch for Illinois

Brandon Peters QB 6-5 220

This season, Brandon Peters has put up 408 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has thrown 0 interceptions. He has a QB Rating of 129.3thus far this season. Brandon Peters has thrown 0 interceptions this season.As a rusher, Brandon Peters has 128.0 rushing yards, which puts him in the 81.17 percentile among Quarterbacks. He ran the ball as opposed to throwing the ball 22.0 times this season, which puts him in the 57.41 percentile. Has he hit paydirt as a runner? He has 1.0 rushing touchdowns this season.

Chase Brown RB 5-11 195

This season, Chase Brown has 440 rushing yards on 79 carries. Was he able to get to the end zone on the ground? He has 2 rushing touchdowns.As a receiver in the backfield, Chase Brown picked up 30 yards. He caught the ball as opposed to taking handoffs or catching laterals 5 times this season. Did he score often as a receiver? He had 0 receiving touchdowns this season.

Josh Imatorbhebhe WR 6-2 220

This season, Josh Imatorbhebhe picked up 263 yards. He caught the ball 19 times this season. Did he score often as a receiver? He had 3 receiving touchdowns this season.

Owen Carney Jr. DL 6-3 260.0

The leading tackler among Defensive Ends for Illinois, Owen Carney Jr. has 23 tackles this season. He was able to keep rushers back and penetrate the offensive line with 6 tackles for loss, which puts him in the 90.39 percentile among Defensive Ends. When it came to rushing the Quarterback, he has been able to take them down 5 times this season, which put him in the 96.59 percentile among all Defensive Ends in College Football. He has forced 1 fumbles this season.

Tony Adams DB 6-0 205.0

He is the leading tackler among non-exclusive Defensive Backs (meaning he can play either Safety Position, Nickel Back, Star or even play as a Cornerback in coverage) for Illinois, Tony Adams had 51 tackles which puts him in the 95.32 percentile among returning non-exclusive Defensive Backs. He was able to keep rushers and receivers back on screens with 0 tackles for loss this season, which puts him in the 31.97 percentile among Secondary position players. When it came to blitzing the Quarterback, this season he was able to take them down 0 times this season. Tony Adams as a ball hawker was able to pick off 1 passes this season, which puts him in the 83.84 percentile among returning secondary position players this season.

The Northwestern Roster

The Players to Watch for Northwestern

Peyton Ramsey QB 6-2 220

This season, Peyton Ramsey has put up 1136 yards and 8 touchdowns. He has thrown 6 interceptions. He has a QB Rating of 114.6thus far this season. Peyton Ramsey has thrown 6 interceptions this season.As a rusher, Peyton Ramsey has 122.0 rushing yards, which puts him in the 80.56 percentile among Quarterbacks. He ran the ball as opposed to throwing the ball 55.0 times this season, which puts him in the 84.88 percentile. Has he hit paydirt as a runner? He has 2.0 rushing touchdowns this season.

Drake Anderson RB 5-11 190

This season, Drake Anderson has 252 rushing yards on 61 carries. Was he able to get to the end zone on the ground? He has 2 rushing touchdowns.As a receiver in the backfield, Drake Anderson picked up 28 yards. He caught the ball as opposed to taking handoffs or catching laterals 4 times this season. Did he score often as a receiver? He had 0 receiving touchdowns this season.

Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman WR 6-2 203

This season, Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman picked up 347 yards. He caught the ball 31 times this season. Did he score often as a receiver? He had 4 receiving touchdowns this season.

Jake Saunders DT 6-2 300

The leading tackler among Defensive Tackles for Northwestern, Jake Saunders has 12 tackles this season. He was able to keep rushers back and penetrate the offensive line with 2 tackles for loss, which puts him in the 69.96 percentile among Defensive Tackles. When it came to rushing the Quarterback, he has been able to take them down 0 times this season, which put him in the 32.96 percentile among all Defensive Tackles in College Football. He has forced 0 fumbles this season.

Earnest Brown IV DE 6-5 270.0

The leading tackler among Defensive Ends for Northwestern, Earnest Brown IV has 19 tackles this season. He was able to keep rushers back and penetrate the offensive line with 4 tackles for loss, which puts him in the 82.04 percentile among Defensive Ends. When it came to rushing the Quarterback, he has been able to take them down 0 times this season, which put him in the 29.35 percentile among all Defensive Ends in College Football. He has forced 0 fumbles this season.

Brandon Joseph DB 6-1 192.0

He is the leading tackler among non-exclusive Defensive Backs (meaning he can play either Safety Position, Nickel Back, Star or even play as a Cornerback in coverage) for Northwestern, Brandon Joseph had 38 tackles which puts him in the 87.46 percentile among returning non-exclusive Defensive Backs. He was able to keep rushers and receivers back on screens with 1 tackles for loss this season, which puts him in the 71.77 percentile among Secondary position players. When it came to blitzing the Quarterback, this season he was able to take them down 0 times this season. Brandon Joseph as a ball hawker was able to pick off 5 passes this season, which puts him in the 100.0 percentile among returning secondary position players this season.

Illinois vs. Northwestern Prediction, Picks, and Odds


Prediction: Illinois 14 Northwestern 27

Spread Pick: Illinois +14 -108 Pinnacle Sports
Moneyline Pick: Northwestern -515 SportsInteraction
Total Pick: Over 39 -165 matchbook