Best Week 2 college football underdog picks: Don't count out Illinois

Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema enters the field with his team before the start of Saturday s game with the UTSA Roadrunners at Memorial Stadium
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Andrew Ortenberg

NCAAF· 1 week ago

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I'm an editor here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up.

College football is officially back in full swing. The action has been a ton of fun so far, and we’re only getting started. The first couple of weeks have been very kind to us here at Pickswise, and we cashed our college football mega parlay for both Week 0 and Week 1, at 10/1 and 15/1 odds respectively.

Underdogs are one of the best parts of college football. Upsets can happen at truly any time. With the massive slates we’re getting treated to each and every Saturday now, there are always going to be plenty of spots for underdog value. Today we’re talking my three favorite of those spots:

Illinois +10 over Virginia

People can’t make up their mind about this Illinois team. After they beat Nebraska in their opener, everyone way overreacted as the media got ready to crown Bret Bielema as the savior of Fighting Illini football. They promptly went out and lost to UTSA, and now everybody has way overreacted the other way. This team isn’t as good as you thought they were after beating Nebraska, and they aren’t as bad as you might think they are after losing to UTSA.

Illinois got a bit away from their running game against UTSA, and I expect them to get back to ground and pound here. They’re exactly the kind of team you want to back as a double digit ‘dog, because they’re going to play conservatively and keep the clock churning. UTSA isn’t nearly as bad as people are making them seem, and their quarterback Frank Harris is legitimately talented. Illinois helped us cash our Week 0 mega parlay, now they’re going to help us again here.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Illinois Fighting Illini vs Virginia Cavaliers

Toledo +16.5 over Notre Dame

The big story from the Notre Dame/Florida State game was the inspiring return of FSU quarterback McKenzie Milton, but I was just as surprised by the pitiful showing from Notre Dame’s defense. The Fighting Irish had plenty of chances to control that game, as FSU starter Jordan Travis tossed three early interceptions. But Notre Dame kept letting the Seminoles back in the game, and now I don’t see them blowing out Toledo.

This Toledo team is capable of hanging with power conference competition. They went 4-2 last year, and both of those two losses came by only three points. Brian Kelly got himself in some hot water with his comments to a reporter after the game, and that distraction certainly won’t help as the team regroups. Notre Dame couldn’t stop anything on the ground, allowing FSU to rush for 264 yards. With that kind of run defense, there’s no way I could lay three scores with the Fighting Irish here.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Toledo Rockets vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Iowa +4.5 over Iowa State

In this classic rivalry game, I’m rolling with the Hawkeyes. I’m never a big fan of buying high on a team, but I don’t think Iowa’s bludgeoning of Indiana has diminished much of their value. Iowa’s defense is just too good to be getting this many points here. They completely embarrassed the Hoosiers in Week 1, forcing Michael Penix Jr to toss three interceptions and average only 5.0 yards per attempt. Last year, Penix only threw four interceptions the whole season on 220 attempts.

Iowa got to sharpen themselves against a ranked opponent in Week 1, while Iowa State sleepwalked against Northern Iowa. They looked very sloppy in that game, only winning 16-10. I’ve never been a big Brock Purdy guy, as he never really built on the promise he showed as a freshman. This one feels like a toss-up, so getting 4.5 free points is too good to pass up. I’m expecting a very tight game here, and one that has a good chance of being decided by a field goal in either direction.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Iowa Hawkeyes vs Iowa State Cyclones

Pickswise is the home of free expert football picks. Our expert football handicappers are on hand season-long to provide you with the best NFL Picks and NFL Predictions along with College Football Picks, including our College Football Best Bets each week.

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