Week 2 college football prediction and preview Illinois vs. Kansas for Friday September 8

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Week 2 Friday games features Illinois vs. Kansas

We had a good number of Thursday and Friday games in Week 1 of the college football season, but that is not the case in Week 2. The only FBS vs. FBS matchup is an intriguing one, though, as the Illinois Fighting Illini head to Lawrence to take on the Kansas Jayhawks.

 

These two programs have only played five times, with the most recent coming back in 1968. The other matchups were in 1929, 1917, 1916, and 1892, so it’s fair to say we don’t have any recent history in this one, at least not like we do on the college basketball side.

Week 2 Hub | College football odds | College football betting splits

(Odds as of September 6, 2:00 p.m. PT)

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Kansas Jayhawks (-3, 58)

Illinois escaped with a 30-28 win over Toledo on the strength of a Caleb Griffin 29-yard field goal with five seconds left to begin the season 1-0. The Jayhawks were also victorious, but beat up on FCS Missouri State in a 48-17 rout. It did take Kansas some time to open up a big lead, though, as that was a 17-10 game at halftime before the Jayhawks scored 31 of the game’s final 38 points.

Jalon Daniels did not play for Kansas, as backup Jason Bean threw for 276 yards and a couple touchdowns. Daniels is expected to play here in Week 2 after missing the game with a tight back. Daniels had an 18/4 TD/INT ratio last season and threw for just over 2,000 yards with another 419 on the ground in nine games. 

Star running back Devin Neal had a light workload last week, as he had 94 yards and a touchdown over 13 carries. He also had a receiving touchdown on three catches for 26 yards. He’ll be needed more here, as Illinois gave up 186 yards on the ground to Toledo last week. In fact, the Illini were outgained 416-374, but they did have 6.13 yards per play compared to 5.27 for Toledo. Illinois just couldn’t get off the field on third down.

That may be an ongoing concern with last year’s defensive coordinator Ryan Walters now the captain of the SS Boilermaker at Purdue. Head coach Bret Bielema promoted Aaron Henry to the role and he’ll need a better performance from the defense this week.

While Illinois had over six yards per play, they didn’t come in a traditional way for second-year OC Barry Lunney Jr. Luke Altmyer won the starting job to replace Tommy DeVito and threw for 211 yards on just 18 completions, but was also Illinois’s leading rusher with 69 yards. The loss of Chase Brown was pretty evident, as Reggie Love III had a 29-yard carry, but only 29 yards on his other 11 attempts and Josh McCray found very little running room with 30 yards on 11 tries.

Illinois could face a stiffer defensive test from Kansas, so it will be interesting to see if the offensive line plays better here. Kansas did allow 6.15 yards per play defensively last year, but the Big 12 is a much better conference than the MAC, so the effort against Toledo is a little underwhelming coming into this one.

With a healthy Daniels, my line on this one is Kansas -1.5, as I did downgrade Illinois four points off of last week’s data point in my Power Ratings. At +3, the lean would be to Illinois, but I’m not confident in the rebuilt offense and a defense in a state of flux. This line may be more likely to go up to -3.5 given what people remember about the Jayhawks from last season. At +3.5, Illinois becomes a more attractive play.

Lean: Illinois +3 (would take a small piece of Illinois at +3.5)

Other Week 2 Friday Game

Indiana State at Indiana (N/A): No line is available for the FCS vs. FBS matchup against Indiana at time of publish, but I wanted to briefly mention it. Indiana State lost 27-0 to Eastern Illinois in Week 1 and Indiana was held under 200 yards of offense against Ohio State in the 23-3 loss.

Indiana State only won two games last season and got beat 56-0 by Purdue. They had 219 yards against EIU last week and six turnovers, including four interceptions, as Gavin Screws threw two in 24 pass attempts and Evan Olaes threw two passes that were both picked off. Two of the interceptions were returned for touchdowns right before halftime.

We’ll see what this line looks like, but with Indiana’s lack of explosive plays and Indiana State’s inept offense, this could be a really ugly low-scoring game.