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September 15, 2017

There is one College Football pick tonight.

 

Take Illinois +17 spread against South Florida risking 3% of the bankroll. 

For the last few seasons, Illinois has been a team where not much has been expected out of them. They have been doormats in the Big 10 and have widely been considered one of the worst FBS teams in the country. This season however, they are a surprising 2-0 to start the year under first year head coach, Lovie Smith. While two games certainly aren’t enough to change the perception of a team who has struggled for years, we do believe they are still be overlooked by the oddsmakers as well as the betting public, especially heading into this contest with the highly touted USF Bulls.

While the level of competition that Illinois has faced hasn't exactly been top-tiered, one must be impressed with their most recent performances, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They enter this contest ranked 28th in the FBS in scoring and 44th in total defense. They have been particularly stingy against the run, allowing just an average of 88.5 yards per game on the ground while also forcing 4 turnovers. While people may criticize their strength of schedule thus far, we believe it was rather impressive that they managed to hold a Western Kentucky team, who is known for their offense and led the nation in scoring a season ago, to just a single touchdown.

The USF Bulls came into this season as a dark horse to potentially crack the College Football Playoff this season, and while they certainly have the talent on their roster at the skill positions, this could be a tough matchup for them tonight. Since Hurricane Irma came ripping through Florida, the Bulls have had their attention diverted to more important things than football. Not only did Irma force the cancellation of the Bulls game last week against UConn, but it also impacted the preparation for this contest tonight. The Bulls returned to the practice field on Tuesday for the first time since last Thursday, coupled with the fact that they haven't played a game in 2 weeks could leave the Bulls a little bit rusty on both ends of the ball.

This is also coach Lovie Smith's first trip back to Tampa since being let go from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015. You can bet that Smith himself, along with his players would like nothing more than to upset the Bulls and give their new head coach a manner of retribution in this stadium. On paper, it appears that the Bulls would have the advantage in this contest, however, with all the outside distractions and intangibles going on in Florida, we wouldn't be surprised if the Bulls were a bit out of sorts in the early going as they have been in each of their games this season. If the Bulls start off slow, it will be incredibly difficult for them to cover this generous number. USF probably finds a way to win this contest, but the Illini's defense keeps them in the game and within the point spread. The value is on the visitors in this one.




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