(Use This Link or Above Link For This Bonus Offer – Valid For New Customers Only)
Down in the Lone Star State, the field at Reliant Stadium should be alight with tons of green, gold, blue, and orange. The Illinois Fighting Illini and their prolific running attack will take on the Baylor Bears and their "Air Bear" assault on Wednesday afternoon, and NCAA football betting fans certainly aren't going to want to miss this one! Take a look at our Texas Bowl picks for Wednesday night.
Texas Bowl Matchup: Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Baylor Bears
Date: Wednesday, December 29th, 6:00 ET
Location: Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX
Texas Bowl Line: Baylor -1
Fighting Illini Notes: Head Coach Ron Zook knew that he was going to be up against it this year if he didn't bring Illinois to a bowl game this year. However, even with that in mind, he trusted a true freshman as his quarterback for the entire season, as QB Nathan Scheelhaase led the way for the Illini. Scheelhaase didn't make for a terrific passer this year, as he only completed 56.8 percent of his passes for 1,583 yards and 17 TDs against eight picks. There were some real moments of brilliance, and we have to remember that this was just a first year man that has a lot of growth still over the course of the next three years in Champaign. Scheelhaase ran all over the field though when his number was called, rumbling for 806 yards and four TDs. RB Mikel LeShoure was really the dominator, though, and without him, Illinois would never have been anywhere near bowl eligibility. He had the best game of the year on the ground in the country, accounting for 330 yards and three TDs against the Northwestern Wildcats, and when it was said and done, he finished with 1,522 yards and 14 TDs. In total, Illinois rushed for 243.5 yards per game this year, one of the best marks in the Big Ten and No. 13 in the nation. The real concern for Baylor in Texas Bowl betting action is that this Illinois defense really has played substantially better ball this year than in years past. Allowing 340.4 yards per game ranked No. 38 in the country, and the end result was giving up just 24.2 points per game.
Bears Notes: In the third year of his collegiate career, QB Robert Griffin did his job and took this team on his back to the Texas Bowl. He threw for 3,159 yards and 21 TDs against eight picks, and he rushed for 591 yards and eight tuddies. There were five different players that had at least 36 receptions this year for the Bears, and though only WR Josh Gordon averaged more than 12.5 yards per reception on this team, there was definitely no shortage of yardage. All five receivers had at least 379 yards. WR Kendall Wright led the way with 66 receptions, 825 yards, and six TDs. The running game has been key this year as well. RB Jay Finley had some tremendous games this year, and he ended the campaign with 1,155 yards and 11 trips to the end zone. The Bears ended up averaging 480.4 yards per game this year, ranking No. 13 in the country, and this was one of the handful of teams in the country that averaged over 200 yards per game both through the air and on the ground. The defense was terrible down the stretch, though, giving up at least 42 points in each of its last three games. In total, 420.2 yards per game was just too high, even by Big XII standards, and the end result was a lofty 29.8 points per game average. When push came to shove though, just getting to a bowl game was good enough for this team, which competed for the Big XII South title until the very end of the campaign.
The Final Word: Baylor just isn't as good as Illinois is this year, and if recent form was any indication, the Illini are the team that we have to go with. Griffin is inevitably going to end up playing his heart out, especially right in his own backyard in Houston, but there's going to be too much LeShoure for the Bears to stop. Scheelhaase has a breakout day and leads Illinois to victory.
Texas Bowl Free Pick: Illinois -1
Texas Bowl Prediction: Illinois 38 – Baylor 34