For the second week in a row, the Nittany Lions are heavy favorites.
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.
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.