Illinois vs. Kansas football: Prediction, odds, spread and over/under for College Football Week 2

LAWRENCE, KANSAS - SEPTEMBER 1: Wide receiver Luke Grimm #11 of the Kansas Jayhawks in action against the Missouri State Bears at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on September 1, 2023 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
LAWRENCE, KANSAS - SEPTEMBER 1: Wide receiver Luke Grimm #11 of the Kansas Jayhawks in action against the Missouri State Bears at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on September 1, 2023 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

Kansas football takes on Illinois this Friday in hopes of improving to 2-0. We gathered game odds, the spread and over/under, and our prediction for the contest.

The Kansas Jayhawks are back. Following a 6-7 finish in 2022 that saw them reach their first bowl game in over a decade, Lance Leipold’s unit began the 2023 season with a 48-17 blowout victory over FCS opponent Missouri State.

Although they played well enough to come out victorious, KU’s execution was far from flawless. A slow start had the Jayhawks down 10-7 early in the second quarter, and it was not until the latter stages of the contest that they really began to pick up their play.

Several underlying questions remain for Kansas football. Star quarterback Jalon Daniels missed Week 1 due to back tightness, and last year’s leading receiver, Luke Grimm, left the game in the first half and is questionable for this Friday.

Illinois is coming off a narrow 30-28 victory over the Toledo Rockets, the favorite to win the MAC. If not for a last-second field goal by Caleb Griffin, the Fighting Illini would be looking at a 0-1 start.

They lost their starting quarterback (Tommy DeVito) and running back (Chase Brown) to the NFL this offseason, so a good portion of their offensive production is being replaced. The defense also seems due for regression, as they allowed more than 23 points in just one game in 2023.

Kansas was favored heavily last time out, and the odds are still in their favor against Illinois. This is everything you need to know about the spread, odds, and other game information for Illinois vs. Kansas football.

Illinois vs. Kansas Odds, Spread and Total

As we mentioned before, Kansas is the majority betting favorite over Illinois. Home-field advantage is likely what gave the Jayhawks the edge, but it should be a tight contest nonetheless.

DraftKings: -3.5 Kansas, -166, +3.5 Illinois, +140, O/U 54.5
FanDuel: -3 Kansas, -154, +3 Illinois, +128, O/U 56.5

Illinois vs. Kansas How to Watch

Date: Sept. 8
Game Time: 6:30 p.m. CT
Venue: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium
Weather: 93°
How to Watch: ESPN2 | Fubo TV

Illinois vs. Kansas Key Players to Watch

Illinois Football

The Illinois defense finished No. 1 among all FBS schools in 2022, and they returned a key piece in Jer’Zhan Newton. A projected first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft, Newton garnered second-team All-American honors last year. KU’s offensive line will have a tall task stopping him from getting into the backfield.

Wide receiver Isaiah Williams led the Illini in receiving yards, touchdowns, and receptions in 2022, and he’s back for a senior season in 2023. He is one of the top slot receivers in the Big Ten but is effective from anywhere on the field.

Quarterback Luke Altmyer is a transfer from Ole Miss. He started his first career game against Toledo, throwing for 211 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He’ll look to build on that performance against Kansas.

Kansas Football

The leading storyline heading into the game is the status of Jalon Daniels. He missed the season-opener, and although Brett McMurphy reported that he will play, the capacity of which he will play remains to be seen. However, the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year has high expectations and could be a difference-maker if he suits up.

Running back Devin Neal scored two touchdowns against Missouri State and over 100 scrimmage yards. The only returning 1,000-yard rusher in the conference should continue to produce, even against Illinois’ top-notch front seven.

Cornerback Cobee Bryant often makes mistakes but is the best player in an otherwise weak Kansas secondary. A consensus first-team All-Big 12 player, he’ll be assigned to cover Pat Bryant. His most notable moment was his game-sealing pick-six vs. West Virginia last season.

Illinois vs. Kansas Prediction and Pick

From what we’ve seen thus far, these teams are pretty even. Neither lived up to expectations in Week 1, but it’s difficult to tell how a team will play from their first game together.

Ultimately, it all comes down to Jalon Daniels’ status. I do not believe he’ll play the entire game, but all signs point to him seeing some snaps. His presence will likely allow Kansas to keep up in a high-scoring affair.

With how poorly the defense played in the first half last time out, I’m worried that something similar will go down. Kansas needs to come out firing because I think the Illinois defense is too good for the Jayhawks to dig themselves out of a two or three-possession deficit.

The Kansas fan in me says to choose KU, but the rational side tells me that there are too many “ifs” that need to happen for them to win. Still, I’m going with Kansas due to the game being played on their home field and a questionable Illinois offense.

Prediction: 37-34, Kansas wins

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