Maryland Terrapins vs Illinois Fighting Illini Prediction, Pick and Preview, September 17 (9/17): NCAAF

Maryland Terrapins vs Illinois Fighting Illini Prediction, Pick and Preview, September 17 (9/17): NCAAF

Credit: photo by Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports




Time 9:00 p.m. EST
Terrapins money line -275
Terrapins spread -7 (-110)
Fighting Illini money line +230
Fighting Illini spread +7 (-110)
Over / under 61.5



The Illinois Fighting Illini will host the Maryland Terrapins for a Big Ten matchup this Friday night. The Terrapins have gotten off to a good start this season, defeating rivals West Virginia and Howard. The Fighting Illini have struggled after open the year with a win over Nebraska in Week 0, dropping their last to games against UTSA and Virginia. Maryland won the only meeting between these schools, 63-33.

Offensive matchup

Taulia Tagovailoa has been outstanding through the first two weeks. He went 22-27 for 274 passing yards with three touchdowns last weekend against Howard, and he threw for 332 yards and three scores in the opener against West Virginia. Tayon Fleet-Davis has taken lead of the backfield so far in his senior season. He was a stud against WVU, gaining 123 yards on 18 carries, and catching four passes.

Dontay Demus Jr. has also started his senior year on a strong note. He's posted identical statlines in both games, totaling 12 catches for 261 receiving yards and touchdowns so far this season. Sophomore wideout Rakim Jarrett has caught 13 passes for 189 yards and two scores.



Artur Sitkowski replaced an injured Brandon Peters in the opener against Nebraska, and led the team to a victory. He was even better in his first start against UTSA, gaining 300+ yards and throwing two touchdowns, but the defense couldn't stop the run UTSA's run game. Playing from behind last week didn't go well for him, and the same thing could happen this Friday. 

An injury to junior back Mike Epstein has led to a committee approach for the Fighting Illini. Sophomore Chase Brown led the backfield with eleven touches last weekend, and he gained 69 yards and scored on the ground. Isaiah Williams and Daniel Barker form a solid duo. Williams had a big game against UTSA, and he leads the team with 19 catches for 183 receiving yards and a touchdown. Barker is a three-year starter at tight end, and he caught two touchdowns against UTSA.

Defensive matchup

Last weekend, the Maryland defense shut out Howard and made them go 0/11 on third downs. The Terps also forced four turnovers in the win over WVU.

Illinois was gassed on the ground in their first two games, and they got torched through the air last week against Virginia. After allowing UVA QB Brennan Armstrong threw for 405 passing yards and five touchdowns, Tagovailoa may light them up as well.


This won't be a blowout, but it's hard to see Illinois stopping anyone defensively right now. Maryland's momentum should travel and carry into this weekend. They've looked strong on both sides of the ball through two weeks, and Tagovailoa's improvements have taken this offense to another level. Take Maryland's game spread.

PICK: Maryland -7.5 (-110)

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