The Illinois football team took a leap forward in 2002, going 8-5 and securing its first bowl berth since the 2019 season. That was the first winning season for the Fighting Illini since 2011 and no doubt it was rewarding to the team’s Illinois sports betting backers.
Now, can coach Bret Bielema guide Illinois to another leap this autumn?
Illinois is unranked in the 2023 preseason Associated Press poll. But it seems that every year some team emerges to surprise the nation and finish with a final ranking in the top 10. So IllinoisBet.com constructed hypothetical odds on which unranked team is most likely to finish the 2023 season in the AP poll top 10.
We considered several big-name programs that start this season outside of the poll’s top 25.
Here are our results. Don’t forget, at IllinoisBet.com you can find more football coverage as the season approaches, plus the best Illinois sports betting promos available.
Hypothetical Odds For Unranked Team To Finish In Top 10
Illinois Rates High On List Of Candidates To Soar in 2023
You won’t find these odds at Illinois sportsbook apps, only here at IllinoisBet.com.
The Illini contended for the Big Ten West Division title last year, but a three-game losing streak in November saw them fall behind eventual division winner Purdue. Before that skid, Illinois reached No. 14 in the AP poll.
There’s still plenty on the table for this program to try to accomplish. The last bowl victory for Illinois came at the end of the 2011 season; the last time the team from Champaign claimed a Big Ten championship was 2001, before the league had a title game.
But there is reason to believe that Illinois can not only contend for a spot in the B1G Championship Game, but perhaps surge into the AP top 10 for the first time since peaking at No. 7 in 2001. The Illini return most of a strong defensive line from last year and has a healthy quarterback competition going in fall camp, including Mississippi transfer QB Luke Altmeyer.
The nonconference schedule appears to be pretty manageable, with Toledo and Florida Atlantic coming to Champaign and a road trip to Kansas. And perhaps most helpful as far as the schedule is concerned, Illinois avoids conference powerhouses Michigan and Ohio State.
Illinois has +9500 odds with FanDuel Illinois Sportsbook to win the Big Ten Championship Game in 2023.