Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Baylor Bears

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by Sportsbook Advisor - 12/29/2010 12:14 PM Share

This year's Texas Bowl will feature two of the most exciting offenses in college football betting, each of which boasts two essential elements: A dual-threat quarterback that can make plays with his arm and legs, and the complementary running back that can explode for huge gains at a time. While the Illinois Fighting Illini are back in the postseason after a two-year absence, it's been a much longer time coming for the Baylor Bears, as head coach Art Briles has led his program to their first bowl appearance since 1994.

•Texas Bowl
•Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Baylor Bears
•Wednesday December 29, 2010 - 6:00 PM ET
•Online Sports Betting Odds: Baylor -1
The last time the Bears were in a bowl game, they fell 10-3 to the Washington State Cougars in the Alamo Bowl, but it will be hard for the Fighting Illini to keep a team that averaged 32.6 points per game from putting up a much bigger point total this time around. Illinois was blown away in a 49-17 rout by South Carolina State in the 2008 Rose Bowl, but will look to set the tone at Reliant Stadium this Wednesday.

NCAA Football Betting Preview: Illinois
The Fighting Illini have averaged just a point less than Baylor this season, with an offense that closely resembles the one that the Bears execute. That is in big part due to the play of All-American running back Mikel Leshoure, who led all running backs in the Big Ten with 1,513 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns. Leshoure may well be bound for the NFL as an early opt out player after impressing scouts with his consistency and penchant for big performances, including a school-record 330 yards on 33 carries in a 48-27 win over Northwestern at Wrigley Field in November. First-year offensive coordinator Paul Petrino has done an excellent job of balancing his carries aside the plays called for quarterback Nathan Scheelhasse. Scheelhasse has made more plays with his legs than his arm the past couple of weeks, with 228 yards rushing in the last two contests. Petrino will need to find a way to allow his offense to hit their potential after opponents averaged 24.3 points against an inconsistent Illinois defense this year, including 67 points in a loss to Michigan.

NCAA Football Betting Preview: Baylor
The Bears will look to take advantage of the holes in the Fighting Illini defense with an offense that ranks seventh in the country with an average of 315.5 yards of total offense, as quarterback Robert Griffin III and company look to bounce back after losing three straight games to finish their season two games above .500. Griffin threw just one touchdown compared to three interceptions over that final football betting span, and unless the sophomore signal-caller can get it together Baylor could be in for a long day. Zook has confirmed his full confidence that Griffin will be able to get the job done, and he won't be alone with help from senior running back Jay Finley. Finley ranks second on the school's all-time single-season rushing list after running for 1,155 yards this season. While Illinois has some holes in its defense, the same can be said for a Bears' unit that allowed 40 or more points six times this season.

The Match Up: Illinois vs. Baylor
It will be an exciting matchup in Houston when two dynamic offenses clash against one another in a battle of which team can do more damage with both team's defenses showing a lot of inconsistency this year. Baylor did more damage during the regular season but finished with three straight losses, and Leshoure and company should be primed to make it four.

Texas Bowl Betting Pick: Illinois


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