NCAAF Friday night picks: Illinois vs. Wisconsin, Louisiana vs. UAB

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

October 21st, 2020

With cool weather setting in around the country, college football on "off nights" receives extra attention and appreciation. Wednesday night "MACtion," Thursday night "Fun Belt" play, and some "Pac-12 after dark" Friday night all make college football fans smile during the week.

New to all of us is a Big Ten matchup Friday night this week, as the conference debuts in 2020!

Let’s take a look at the Big Ten's Friday-night battle, as well as an intriguing Sun Belt matchup.

Illinois vs. Wisconsin

Sat, October 24 2020, 12:00 AM

Wisconsin Badgers






O 51

Illinois Fighting Illini






U 51

Wisconsin opened as a 18.5-point favorite, and the been bet up to 19.5. The Illini have lost 19 straight games as double-digit road underdogs and will have to pull off some spectacular play to break that streak Friday.

But, as the season-opener for both teams, there are plenty of question marks, most notably who will replace Jonathan Taylor at Wisconsin and what the quarterback situation is, because Jack Coan suffered a foot injury in fall practice.

Wisconsin has always been a rush-first offense and will presumably lean into that position at home against a weaker team. Wisconsin must replace three-year starting center Tyler Biadasz but will get to face an Illinois team that has to replace all four starters on the defensive line.

The Illinois offense, however, has returning quarterback Brandon Peters and six receivers with playing experience. Peters will look to pass if Illinois is behind, and he has the talent around him to succeed. The backdoor will almost certainly be open Friday night.

Despite all of the distractions, delays, and protocols that have accompanied preparation for football in the Big Ten during the era of coronavirus, Illinois head coach Lovie Smith claims this is the most prepared team he’s had during his tenure. If those comments are more than coachspeak, there is only one side to take in this matchup.

The Illini are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven Big Ten games. 

Pick: Illinois +19.5

Louisiana-Lafayette vs. UAB

Sat, October 24 2020, 12:00 AM

UAB Blazers






O 49.5

Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns






U 49.5

This Sun Belt vs. Conference USA tilt should make for an interesting matchup.

Louisiana-Lafayette is 3-1 but just 1-3 ATS, as it has failed to cover since an opening upset against Iowa State. UAB is 4-1 and 2-3 ATS.

UAB leads the Conference USA West, and an impressive win against Western Kentucky was arguably the most impressive win on its résumé. The Blazers' loss was a 31-14 defeat against Miami, where they held D’Eriq King to 144 passing yards but gave up 134 rushing yards on 17 carries to Cam’Ron Harris.

Since their defeat of Iowa State, the Ragin' Cajuns have barely defeated Georgia Southern and Georgia State, and most recently lost to Coastal Carolina. In the loss to Coastal Carolina, however, Louisiana averaged 7.7 yards per rush, and Ragin' Cajuns' continued success on the ground offers a promising indicator that they can replicate that success against UAB.

Louisiana is eighth in the nation in rush yards per attempt and has a higher ceiling.

Pick: Louisiana-Lafayette +1

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