Sports Betting Website Rates Illini’s 2020 Schedule As Big Ten’s Easiest

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- If anything will help Illinois get to bowl games in back to back years for the first time in nearly a decade, it is the schedule in front of them.

According to the mathematical formula for SportsBettingDime.com, a sports gambling website, Illinois’ 2020 football schedule is the easiest among the 14 Big Ten programs and the least difficult by a large margin.

According to the gambling website, Illinois has the 43rd most difficult schedule in the nation. The Illini’s schedule, which consists of non-conference home games against FCS member Illinois State, Connecticut and Bowling Green, is still rated more difficult than 23 Power Five Conference programs including Clemson, Auburn and Texas A&M.

The website has 12 Big Ten programs among the nation’s 30 most difficult schedules including rating Purdue’s as the most difficult among all 130 Football Bowl Subdivision programs. Michigan (2), Nebraska (3), Iowa (4), Michigan State (7) and Wisconsin (10) among the ten toughest schedules in the nation.

In the Illini’s 2020 schedule, which has Illinois returning at least 15 starters from last season’s 6-7 squad that qualified for a bowl game for the first time in five years, they avoid Michigan and Penn State from the Eastern Division while getting preseason conference favorite and defending champion Ohio State at Memorial Stadium on Senior Day on Nov. 21. Illinois also gets divisional games of Minnesota and Iowa at home while being scheduled to travel to play Wisconsin, Nebraska and Indiana.

In April, Both Caesars and DraftKings set the over/under win total mark for the 2020 Illini football season at five, meaning you’d have to bet the over (-115) if you believe Illinois will get to the 6-6 mark needed to qualify for bowl eligibility. DraftKings has set odds at Illinois going under the five-win mark in 2020 (-137) more likely than over five wins (+110).

Illinois broke a five-year streak of not playing in a bowl game last season but finished the 2019 campaign with three straight losses including a 35-20 defeat to California in the Redbox Bowl on Dec. 30.

The last time Illinois played in back-to-back bowl games was winning the 2010 Texas Bowl over Baylor, which was quarterbacked by future Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffith III, and the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl over UCLA. Illinois fired Ron Zook before they played in the 2011 bowl game against UCLA and so the last time the Illini played in bowl games in consecutive seasons with the same head coach was 1991 and 1992 with Lou Tepper on the sidelines.

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