North Carolina is coming off a tough Week One loss to Georgia, while Illinois gave Lovie Smith a win in his first game. Can the Illini get payback after losing last year to the Tar Heels? Check out the North Carolina vs. Illinois fearless prediction and game preview.
North Carolina vs. Illinois Game Preview
Date: Saturday, September 10th
Game Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
Why North Carolina Will Win
The Tar Heels have the firepower Illinois doesn’t.
It might have been a rough day throwing the ball against Georgia, but the Tar Heel passing game is way too good and way too dangerous to come up with another dud. The Bulldogs had something to do with that – they have one of the nation’s best secondaries. Illinois, doesn’t.
There are playmakers on the Illinois defense who’ll put up huge seasons – there just aren’t enough of them to handle everything UNC can do.
It’s still going to take a while for Lovie Smith’s defense to be up to his coaching and talent, and while it looked great in the opener against Murray State, it’s about to get hit by a Tar Heel offense too good not to bust out.
QB Mitch Trubisky didn’t have any luck down the field with just 156 yards on 40 passes, but he’s got the receiving corps to start stretching the field more. Elijah Hood was effective when he got his chances – he only ran ten times for 72 yards – with the running game too good to come up with just 159 yards again.
It this somehow gets into any sort of a shootout, North Carolina is far better equipped.
Why Illinois Will Win
Can Illinois simply power the ball on the Tar Heels? There’s no Nick Chubb to rely on, but the O line is strong enough to do more than hold its own against an okay North Carolina defensive front, and the backs are emerging with Kendrick Foster and Reggie Corbin looking fantastic last week when Ke’Shawn Vaughn was being bottled up. Throw in a veteran, smart quarterback in Wes Lunt, and this should be an effective and efficient offense, even if it’s not as dangerous or talented as North Carolina’s.
On the other side, can the Illini dial up the pressure like it did against Murray State? It generated six sacks and 11 tackles for loss, highlighted by a brilliant debut from Cal transfer Hardy Nickerson at linebacker. He paced the way with 11 tackles with a sack, but the rest of the defense came up with a strong day, too. It’s a while different animal dealing with the North Carolina O, but the team got in the reps and the tune-up it needed.
What’s Going To Happen?
The 2016 Beckman Bowl will either be the Illinois coming out party under Smith, or it’ll be when everything gets back on track for the Tar Heels.
Illinois will play well at home in the first half, using a balanced offense and pressure on D to keep this close and even take the lead going into the locker room. But UNC will adjust with the offense going on a few scoring drives to open up the second half to take control of the game. Illinois will be forced to start throwing, and it won’t be able to do it effectively enough.
North Carolina will pull away in the fourth, but it’ll be a battle for the first 50 minutes.
North Carolina vs. Illinois Prediction
Final Score: North Carolina 31, Illinois 20
Line: North Carolina -8.5, o/u: 58.5
ATS Confidence: 5: Run to the Window – 1: Watch For Fun … 3
Must See Rating: 5: Sully – 1: Skip & Shannon Undisputed … 3