No. 10-ranked Penn State is a 28.5-point favorite against Illinois in the teams’ Big Ten opener. The line opened at 26.5 on Sunday and money on the Nittany Lions moved it by Monday afternoon.
The early over/under is 60, which might seem low. James Franklin’s team averaged 53 points per game in its non-conference slate, while Lovie Smith’s squad managed, on average, 28 points per contest.
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Kickoff Time: 9 p.m., Friday
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This is the second-largest spread Penn State has been a part of in Big Ten play since Franklin’s 2014 arrival. The Nittany Lions were 31-point favorites against Rutgers last year and did not cover, beating the Scarlet Knights 35-6. Penn State also failed to cover against Nebraska in 2017, winning 56-44 as 27-point favorites.
Meanwhile, the Illini — who own a 4-22 record against Big Ten teams since 2015 — have actually been a solid bet as significant underdogs. Illinois has covered four out of five times in the last two years when underdogs by 20 or more points. The conference punching bag covered at Ohio State (-41) and at home against Wisconsin (-28.5).
Penn State kicks off against Illinois at 9 p.m. Friday. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.Penn State and Illinois have not played since the Nittany Lions’ 39-0 win over the Illini at Beaver Stadium in 2015. PSU leads the all-time series 18-5, and has won four of the last five games between the two programs. This will mark the first time Penn State has faced Illinois since Lovie Smith took over has Illini head coach in 2016.
The Nittany Lions have had 186 consecutive games televised nationally, with 306 of the last 308 contests being on TV. Penn State is tied with fellow Big Ten member Michigan for the most games televised since 1995 with 272 each.