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TCR Staff Predictions: Illinois at Virginia

Who’s the better orange and blue team?

Tristen Kissack: Virginia 28, Illinois 23

Chase Brown is back, that’s good. It sounds like Brian Hightower and Jafar Armstrong are back, that’s also good. But historically, Illinois doesn’t play well on the road. I don’t think it’ll be a blowout, but Virginia will do enough to stifle any hopes for an Illini upset.

Steve Braun: Virginia 44, Illinois 13

Illinois on the road in the nonconference? Lmao. Nothing ever changes. We get pushed around by middling G5 teams at home and we can’t field a punt. These things persist, outlasting AD’s and coaches alike. I’m watching the same thing year in and year out.

Our last nonconference road game was dangerously close to being lost to UCONN. Randy Edsall is 6-32 in his return there.

2019: escaped UCONN

2017: thrashed by USF

2015: eviscerated by UNC

2014: annihilated by Washington

2012: hamblasted by Arizona state

2010: actually came close to beating Fresno state but fell short

2008: lost to bill cubit to miss a bowl

2007: beat syracuse pretty good!

2006: vaporized by rutgers

2005: stifled by cal

2003: lost 6-3 to UCLA

2002: outlasted by Southern Miss

2001: smashed Cal!

We’ve had two good teams in this time frame, and they took care of business. This isn’t 2007. UTSA won’t be ranked #1 at any point this year. When you suck out loud, you don’t win these games.

Matt Rejc: Virginia 31, Illinois 10

As Thump points out in excruciating detail above, Illinois’ recent non-conference road record is abysmal. I would’ve predicted a blowout loss at UVA regardless of the outcomes of the Nebraska and UTSA games simply based on that history alone. Adding to Illinois’ typical challenges in their first road game of the year, Virginia is a program on the rise and should compete in the ACC Coastal Division. In the Cavaliers’ 43-0 warmup win last week against William & Mary, Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong passed for 339 yards and two touchdowns. The similarities here call to mind Tim Beckman’s first Illini road game: the 2012 nationally televised disaster against the Arizona State Sun Devils. Hopefully the outcome is better this time around, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Quentin Wetzel: Virginia 35, Illinois 24

After losing to UTSA, I feel like my third grade teacher needs to make me write lines. We are Illinois football and we can’t be trusted. We are Illinois football and we can’t be trusted. We are Illinois football and we can’t be trusted.

I don’t know the first thing about Virginia football, but I can’t possibly pick Illinois to win this week. It’s a power conference team. On the road. I’ve already resigned myself to a loss. Illini, just please, please don’t embarrass yourselves.

Drew Pastorek: Virginia 38, Illinois 23

As I said in my scouting report this week, most fans would probably tolerate a 1-1 record thus far... if they hadn’t watched the Illini “d” get shredded for 500 yards by a G5 school at home (UTSA is better than Eastern Michigan, but that’s no consolation). Illinois’ defense clearly has a long way to go before you can reasonably expect them to win too many games the rest of the way, especially versus a power conference foe away from Champaign. I can’t really paint it any more clearly than my colleagues have. Offensively I mostly like what I’ve seen the first two weeks and I look forward to seeing another Art Dart to Deuce Spann. But if the Illini fall behind early (they probably will) it’s hard to fathom them making the necessary stops to help aid any kind of legitimate comeback. I still think the Illini will pick off another team they aren’t supposed to beat, but the ‘Hoos won’t be that team.

Mihir Chavan: Illinois +10.5 over Virginia

Majority of the lines currently have the ‘Hoos as a 10 favorite. Given the 3 point home bump, the odds makers are thinking this is a 7 point spread. I had mentioned last week was a trap game. UTSA was a great team, but Illinois was clearly more worried about the road trip to Charlottesville. I think a lot of this game happens through the air. If BP is back, the passing game opens instantly. That allows for the running game to gain traction as the defense backs off the pressure on the line. The script has been so far for opposing teams to crowd the pocket and force Illinois to throw the ball. Illinois had done that well and with two games of tape, the passing attack is something to be paid attention to. On defense, Illinois needs to keep the passing game in check, keep the pressure on Armstrong, and the corners have to be able to keep their assignments. This is a gut check for the team. Can’t predict a score, but Illinois ATS and buy the hook to make it Illinois +10.5, and maybe a little sprinkle on the moneyline.

Jack Jungmann: Virginia 30, Illinois 16

We saw last week that Illinois has an issue finishing drives. That’s why I have them kicking 3 field goals this week and only scoring 16 points. Virginia is also a good team and is just flat out better than Illinois. It would take a great game from Art Sitkowski and Chase Brown to keep up with Virginia’s offense, and I just don’t see it happening. I think Illinois keeps it somewhat close, but it could definitely get ugly. Give me Virginia by 2 scores.