The Illinois Fighting Illini and Virginia Cavaliers both face a litmus test when they meet Saturday in a key non-conference college football showdown. The Illini (1-1) registered the first major upset of the 2021 college football season when they beat Nebraska 30-22 at home in a mostly one-sided affair. However, they followed it up with a letdown in a 37-30 loss to UTSA last week. The Cavaliers (1-0) are expected to compete for the ACC Coastal division title but will face their first major-conference opponent after drilling FCS opponent William & Mary 43-0 last week. The programs haven't met since 1999, when the Illini posted a 63-21 victory.

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. ET from Scott Stadium. The Cavaliers are 10.5-point favorites in the latest Illinois vs. Virginia odds from Caesars Sportsbook. The over-under for total points is set at 55.5. Before making any Virginia vs. Illinois picks or college football predictions, you need to see what the SportsLine Projection Model has to say.

The model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times. Over the past five-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated a stunning profit of over $3,500 for $100 players on its top-rated college football picks against the spread. It also enters Week 2 of the 2021 season on a 63-45 run on all top-rated college football picks. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Virginia vs. Illinois and just revealed its picks and analysis. You can visit SportsLine now to see the model's picks. Now, here are the college football odds from Caesars and betting trends for Illinois vs. Virginia:

  • Illinois vs. Virginia point spread: Virginia -10.5
  • Illinois vs. Virginia over-under total: 55.5 points
  • Illinois vs. Virginia money line: Virginia -420, Illinois +320
  • ILL: The Fighting Illini are 2-0 all-time in this matchup.
  • UVA: The Cavaliers have covered the spread in their last four games as home favorites.
Featured Game | Virginia Cavaliers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

Why Virginia can cover

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall told the media that he used last week's game against William & Mary as an audition of sorts to see where he might be able to use the gifted athletes on his roster to contribute, even if it meant straying from their natural positions.

For instance, the Cavaliers had four players who were either recruited at quarterback or spent time on the quarterback depth chart in the Week 1 contest, with only incumbent starter Brennan Armstrong remaining under center.

Armstrong was the team's leading rusher last year and he added two more rushing touchdowns in the opener. But one converted quarterback who made a huge impact was Mississippi State transfer Keytaon Thompson, who went 2-0 as a starter and had 18 total touchdowns as a signal-caller for the Bulldogs before moving on to Virginia.

Thompson rushed four times for 43 yards in the opener and added five receptions for 66 yards, including a 27-yard reception. Iraken Armstead, another converted quarterback, rushed five times for 54 yards. He also had a pass attempt that fell incomplete. 

Why Illinois can cover

Under first-year coach Bret Bielema, the Illini showed promise in their season-opening win against Nebraska, using big plays on offense and series of key defensive stops to seal the upset as a seven-point underdog.

Unfortunately, they appeared to lack focus and self-destructed at times last week against an inspired UTSA club that was facing a Big Ten opponent for the first time and never trailed. Illinois had a potential game-tying touchdown called back because of a penalty in the waning seconds and saw a pass to the end zone fall incomplete as time expired.

Even so, there were still some positives. Backup quarterback Artur Sitkowski, filling in for injured starter Brandon Peters, threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.

How to make Illinois vs. Virginia picks

SportsLine's model is leaning over the total, projecting 61 combined points. It also has generated an against-the-spread pick that cashes in well over 50 percent of simulations. You can only get that pick at SportsLine.

So who wins Virginia vs. Illinois? And which side of the spread hits well over 50 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread to back, all from the advanced model that is up over $3,500 on its top-rated college football spread picks, and find out.