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Sep 2, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Luke Altmyer (9) runs with the ball during the first half against the Toledo Rockets at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
- The Jayhawks are a 3.5-point favorite in the Illinois vs Kansas odds on Friday night
- Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year Jalon Daniels (back) is day-to-day for Kansas
- Don’t miss the latest Illinois vs Kansas odds, lines and predictions below
The Friday night lights will be shining in Lawrence, Kansas this week, as the Jayhawks host Illinois at David Both Kansas Memorial Stadium.
Both teams are coming off Week 1 victories, with the Jayhawks getting the job done without star QB Jalon Daniels – more on him later.
Online sportsbooks are expecting another win for Kansas in this matchup, pegging them as home chalk in the college football odds.
Illinois vs Kansas Odds
|Illinois Fighting Illini||+3.5 (-115)||+145||O 56.5 (-110)|
|Kansas Jayhawks||-3.5 (-105)||-175||U 56.5 (-110)|
The Jayhawks are currently 3.5-point favorites, in a contest with a total of 56.5. Kansas actually opened as field goal favorites, but early money has been all over the Jayhawks. As of Monday evening, 67% of the ATS tickets and 80% of the handle are riding with Kansas.
Kickoff for this matchup is slated for 7:30 pm ET, with clear skies and 79 degree night time temperatures on deck.
Odds as of September 4 at BetMGM. Get a BetMGM promo code to bet on NCAA football this week.
Kansas Betting Analysis
The big question entering Friday night is the health of Daniels. The Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year sat out Week 1 versus Missouri State due to back tightness. Various reports suggest he’s on track to play, but head coach Lance Leipold is still considering him day-to-day.
Daniels, a longshot Heisman Trophy odds candidate, helped the Jayhawks lead the country in expected points added (EPA) per pass last season. He threw for over 2,000 yards and 18 TD, while rushing for 419 yards and seven scores.
Leipold on QB Jalon Daniels: “I thought he had a really good day today.” Adds that he was available to play Friday and that today was “by far” the most team reps he’s had in a practice since the first week of camp… #KUfball
— Matt Tait (@mctait) September 4, 2023
KU returned a whopping 10 starters on offense this year, and didn’t miss a beat in Week 1 with senior Jason Bean at the helm. Bean completed 79% of his passes versus the Bears, for 276 yards and 2 TDs. The team put up 521 total yards and 48 points, with four separate running backs finding paydirt.
Kansas should be able to move the ball regardless of who’s under center, but finding the end zone will likely be a challenge against what should be a very stout Illinois defense.
Illinois Betting Analysis
The Fighting Illini led the nation in scoring defense in 2022, yielding only 12.8 points per game. Yes, they lost defensive coordinator Ryan Walters to Purdue and star corner Devon Witherspoon to the NFL, but there’s still a ton of talent on that side of the ball.
It also helps that new d-coordinator Aaron Henry was promoted from within, and the team is returning six starters from last year’s squad. Illinois is stacked up front, and bettors shouldn’t read too much into their Week 1 performance.
Henry’s defense coughed up 28 points to Toledo, but the Rockets are the reigning MAC West champs and feature a quality dual threat QB. The Fighting Illini only surrendered 5.3 yards per play in Week 1, and still managed a turnover, five tackles for loss and a defensive touchdown.
“A night that I’ll probably never forget”
Luke Altmyer threw for 211 yards and 2 TDs while leading the #Illini in rushing with 69 yards in his Illinois debut
“It was a lot of emotions. In a million years I would have never imagined myself being here. I know God planted me here” pic.twitter.com/B2GKspuZlY
— Bret Beherns (@WCIA3Bret) September 3, 2023
Offensively, Ole Miss transfer Luke Altmyer showcased his dual threat abilities versus Toledo, throwing for 206 yards and two scores, while rushing for 76 yards. Illinois deploys an extremely run heavy approach, led by a very solid offensive line that features a pair of future NFL’ers.
The Fighting Illini rushed for 163 yards in Week 1 and are set up for success on Friday versus a very poor Kansas defensive unit.
Illinois vs Kansas Predictions
The Jayhawks failed to make serious upgrades to a defense that finished 120th or worse in success rate allowed, stuff rate, defensive line yards and EPA/rush allowed in 2022. They yielded an average of 6.3 yards per play last year, and are getting way too much respect after holding Missouri State, an FCS opponent, to 17 points.
Illinois and Kansas Efficiency Ranks
|Illinois Fighting Illini||74th||51st||97th|
We should expect Illinois to run the ball relentlessly against Kansas, exposing their biggest weakness. On the other side of the ball, we’re likely to see a better effort from the Fighting Illini defense, making touchdowns tough to come by for either Daniels or Bean.
Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini +3.5 (-115)
As SBD’s resident Swiss Army Knife, Chris covers virtually every sport including NFL, PGA, NBA, MLB, NCAAB, NCAAF and the Olympics. A true grinder, he’d rather pick off small edges in the player props market than swing for the fences with a 5-leg parlay.