One of Week 2’s most interesting matchups is between the Virginia Cavaliers and the Illinois Fighting Illini. Just the fourth meeting ever between these teams and the second half of a home-and-home series, this is truly a clash of playing styles. Below, we’ll lay out Virginia at Illinois odds, what movement we’ve seen, and what to expect from this non-conference matchup.
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Virginia At Illinois Odds
Find the entire slate of College Football Week 2 odds here
Virginia At Illinois Odds Movement
After opening at Illinois -4, this line has grown slightly in favor of the Illini. Also with the spread movement came an increase in the over/under, which moved up to 57 points on Tuesday afternoon just after opening. Currently, Illinois is a home favorite and the over/under is .
The movement away from Virginia– who is the SP+ pick and figures to be a 1.2-point underdog in the FPI and FEI ratings– is peculiar. It’ll be interesting to watch this line develop the rest of the week and whether or not it moves in favor of UVA.
Styles Make Fights
This game features a battle between two of the truest half-teams in the country. The exciting part is, they come on opposite facets of the ball. Virginia projects to be one of the most capable passing offenses in the nation, led by 4,400-yard passer Brennan Armstrong. On the other side, Illinois severely lags in passing offense, but fields a respectable defense.
Where a real mismatch comes into play, though, is Illinois’ passing defense– which ranked 107th last week against an uninspiring Indiana offense– against UVA’s passing game. Not only is Armstrong one of the nation’s most prolific passers, but the Cavaliers’ receiving corps ranked third by Phil Steele this preseason. With no notable injuries to this unit, Virginia shouldn’t have any trouble moving the football.
It was Lavel Davis Jr. who picked right back up as the favorite target in Week 1 after missing 2021 with a torn ACL. He hauled in four passes for 89 yards, including a 56-yard score in the first quarter. Keytaon Thompson (with his signature 99 jersey number) was the receptions leader from 2021 while Dontayvion Wicks paced the team with over 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns.
While not a liability, Illinois’ secondary is far from inspiring. Do they have a deep enough rotation to cover all of UVA’s receiving threats?
Last week, Virginia was one of the best teams in early down success despite consistently being pinned deep in their own territory. Conversely, Illinois lags far behind in early down success rate, mainly due to their transparent game plan to rush Chase Brown on first and second downs. With UVA being extremely poor at defending the run, expect Illinois to attack with a run-exclusive approach on early downs.
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Virginia At Illinois Forecast
If we’re being frank, I don’t understand this line.
As mentioned, nearly every power rating system points to Virginia being favored and, even on the road, the aggregate rating between these teams only favors Illinois by a point. Defensively, Virginia is a mess. But Illinois just showed last week that they can’t defend the pass against a mediocre Conner Bazelak. Armstrong is a clear upgrade to Bazelak, which should mean the UVA offense has a field day.
Does someone trust Illinois’ offense to keep pace with a pass-happy UVA team? Will Brown and Tommy DiVito’s rushing production match UVA’s passing production? Common practice suggests no. Last season, Virginia blew the doors off Illinois 42-14, albeit in Charlottesville. With a good amount of this offense back, am I supposed to believe Illinois is 28 points better this season at home under DiVito?
Steering against unusual line movement is usually a death knell in college football betting. But, I’m going to take what the market is giving me. I’m betting Virginia ML in this game and I’m not looking back.