College Football Lock Of The Week: Northwestern vs. Illinois

college football lock illinois northwestern

Getty Image / Justin Casterline

It’s hard to believe, and just straight-up sad that college football’s regular season will come to a close this weekend. It’s been a hell of a season with plenty of fantastic games still left when it comes to conference championships and bowl games, but the regular season’s final weekend is always a tough one to swallow for any college football fans.

Our lock of the week will always be a pick against the spread. While we’re not saying it’s wrong to bet over/unders or money lines, we’re just going the spread route.

Last week we went with USC -14 against UCLA and earned the win to improve to 5-2-1 on the year since beginning the weekly series. This week we’re going to the Big Ten for the Illinois – Northwestern matchup in Champaign.

Northwestern @ Illinois (-8.5)

Illinois (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten)

Northwestern (2-9, 0-8 Big ten

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 30th 12:00 PM EST FS1

The Pick: Illinois -8.5

This certainly isn’t the flashiest or most intriguing game of the weekend, but we’re not into just picking flashy games, we’re into picking winners and perhaps making you a bit of coin along the way.

This one is pretty simple, really. Northwestern is a very bad football team while Illinois has surprised some folks this year and is already bowl eligible.

The Wildcats lone two wins this year have come against UNLV and Umass, which aren’t of the quality win variety, to say the least. They enter Saturday’s contest fresh off of a 38-22 loss to Minnesota. As for Illinois, it’s won four of its last five games but also enters the contest off of a loss after falling at Iowa 19-10.

The first thing that needs to be addressed here is just how bad Northwestern’s offense is as it averages the fourth-fewest yards per game among all Division I teams with 284.7 yards per contest. As you can probably imagine based on that number, the Wildcats don’t score a lot. They’re averaging only 15.2 points per game, the third-lowest average in college football.

While the Illinois defense isn’t elite, it’s giving up only 25 points per game so don’t expect Northwestern to all of the sudden find success on offense against this above-average defensive unit. Also, a reminder here, this Northwestern team is 2-9, the season has been over for the Wildcats for quite some time.

Illinois’ offense is nothing to write home about, either, but it has put up 24 or more points in all six of its wins on the year including 37 in a road win at Michigan State and 38 points in a four-point loss against Nebraska early in the year.

Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters has had a solid year with 17 touchdowns and just seven interceptions and it’s his wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe who will be causing problems for Northwestern all afternoon. The junior is averaging over 20 yards per catch against Big Ten foes this season with nine touchdowns on 33 catches.

When it comes down to it, Illinois is playing for a better bowl game destination while Northwestern is playing for nothing when it comes to postseason hopes. It’s going to be tough for this 2-9 Wildcat team to get up for this noon kickoff against Illinois.

Lovie Smith’s Fighting Illini roll big in this one on Saturday, the spread is almost disrespectful to this six-win team.

Mark Harris avatar
Mark is an associate editor and the resident golf guy here at BroBible. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris. You can reach him at