Last Updated Jan 18, 2023, 8:45 AM

Reliaquest Bowl Betting 2024 Odds, Predictions, Preview

The Mississippi State defeated the Illinois Fighting Illini 19-10 in the 2023 ReliaQuest Bowl.

Check out last year's coverage here below and tune back in with us soon for the 2024 ReliaQuest Bowl Odds, Picks and Predictions.

A pall was cast over this game when the legendary Mike Leach passed away in mid-December. Leach was one of the truly revolutionary coaches of the modern era, and the concepts that he installed at Texas Tech, Washington State, and Mississippi State can be found in some form in most offenses at this level.

The Bulldogs have dealt with heavy hearts over the last three weeks, so they will be fired up when they take the field against the Illinois Fighting Illini in one of the last games of bowl season.

These teams will square off in the ReliaQuest Bowl (formerly the Outback Bowl) on January 2, 2023, at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN2 from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Mississippi State vs. Illinois Betting Prediction

Bret Bielema did a superb job with the Illinois Fighting Illini this season. Illinois was 7-1 and ranked No. 16 heading into November, and it looked like the Illini would win the Big Ten West. However, they dropped three of their last four games and had to settle for an appearance in the ReliaQuest Bowl.

Bielema will look to lead Illinois to its first bowl game victory in over a decade, but the Bulldogs should prove to be too much as they look to win one final game for Leach.

Score Prediction: Mississippi State 27, Illinois 20
Best Bet: Mississippi State -2 (-110)

Bet On Mississippi State!

Mississippi State vs. Illinois Betting Odds

Reliaquest Bowl Betting Resources

  • Date: Monday, January 2, 2023
  • TV-Time: ESPN2, 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Raymond James Stadium
  • Location: Tampa, Florida
  • Expert Picks

Mississippi State Bulldogs Betting Analysis

Will Rogers was Mississippi State’s starting quarterback for the entirety of the Mike Leach era. Rogers has a ton of experience in this system, and he completed 68.2% of his passes for 3,713 yards (6.6 YPA) with 34 touchdowns and six interceptions on the season. 

Leading receiver Rara Thomas decided to enter the transfer portal after catching 44 passes for 626 yards and seven touchdowns. Thomas will be missed but not as much as he would be in other systems as the Bulldogs had nine players catch at least 20 passes this season.

Rufus Harvey, Caleb Ducking, and Lideatrick Griffin are the three most dangerous receivers on the roster now.

Mississippi State had a dangerous running back tandem this season as Jo’quavious Marks and Dillon Johnson largely split the carries. Marks ran for 532 yards (5.2 YPC) and nine TDs, while Johnson ran for 488 yards (5.5 YPC) and three TDs.

Both players caught at least 45 passes too in order to help the short passing game. Marks is set to see the bulk of the carries against Illinois though after Johnson entered the transfer portal.

Leach didn’t have many good defenses during his two-decade coaching tenure, but defensive coordinator turned head coach Zach Arnett had an excellent unit in 2022. Arnett ran a 3-3-5 (reminding old fans of the Jackie Sherrill days) system, and Mississippi State ended up having the 27th best defense per SP+.

The strength of the defense was in the secondary. First Team All-SEC cornerback Emmanuel Forbes will suit up one more time before turning pro, and he could have a huge impact in this game.

Safety Jackie Matthews will be following in Forbes’ footsteps, but his backfield partner Collin Duncan decided to skip the bowl game in order to focus on the NFL Draft.

Including its Egg Bowl victory, Miss State closed the season with a 3-1 record. (Getty)

Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Analysis

Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito had a fine season under center for Illinois. DeVito wasn’t asked to throw much in this run-heavy offense (Illinois ran on 58.1% of its plays), but he played well when called upon by Bret Bielema. He completed 69.9% of his passes for 2,397 yards (7.2 YPA) with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Unfortunately, Illinois won’t have standout running back Chase Brown available for this game. Brown made the decision to opt out and prepare for the NFL Draft after suffering an injury late in the season.

He was one of the best running backs in college football this season with 355 touches for 1,883 yards and 12 touchdowns. That will thrust Reggie Love III into the spotlight, but he wasn’t as efficient as Brown during the regular season.

Isaiah Williams is the player to watch in the passing game for Illinois. Williams caught a lot of underneath passes and finished the regular season with 72 catches for 595 yards and five touchdowns. Pat Bryant and Brian Hightower should also see some attention, and they are more likely to be targeted downfield.

The Fighting Illini had the third-best defense in the country per SP+. Illinois was fantastic on this side of the ball, conceding just 13.4 PPG and 277.4 YPG.

They have the best pass defense in college football and lead the nation in interception rate, but they will be significantly weaker in the secondary as First Team All-Big Ten defensive backs Devon Witherspoon and Sydney Brown opted out of this game to focus on the NFL Draft.

Jartavius Martin did decide to play in this game, giving the unit a boost, but this secondary will have some fresh faces while facing a more pass-happy team than any other opponent they have faced this season.

Reliaquest Bowl History

The Reliaquest Bowl began in 1986 as the Hall of Fame Bowl (later the Outback Bowl, 1995-2022) and the matchup currently features schools from the Big Ten and the SEC. This game takes place at Raymond James Stadium from Tampa, Florida.

The SEC has gone 16-13 while the Big Ten owns an 13-17 record in the 32-year history of the bowl. The SEC had won three straight in this matchup but the Big Ten has captured the last two meetings, including the 2019 edition when Minnesota upset Auburn 31-24 as a seven-point underdog.

In 2021, the SEC picked up a 26-20 win, as Ole Miss upset Indiana as a touchdown 'dog while the 'under' connected. The SEC did it again in 2022 with a 24-10 win by Arkansas over Penn State, winning for the fifth time in the past seven Reliaquest Bowls.

YearMatchupSpread/TotalsATS Result
2023Mississippi State 19 Illinois Fighting Illini 10MS State -4, 46.5Favorite, Under
2022Arkansas 24 Penn State 10Penn State -2.5, 47.5Underdog, Under
2021Ole Miss 26 Indiana 20Indiana +9.5, 67Underdog, Under
2020Minnesota 31 Auburn 24Auburn -7, 53.5Underdog, Over
2019Iowa 27 Mississippi State 22Mississippi State -7, 40Underdog, Over
2018South Carolina 26 Michigan 19Michigan -9, 41.5Underdog, Over
2017Florida 30 Iowa 3Florida -1.5, 40.5Favorite, Under
2016Tennessee 45 Northwestern 6Tennessee -9.5, 48.5Favorite, Over
2015Wisconsin 34 Auburn 31 (OT)Auburn -6, 65Underdog, Push
2014LSU 21 Iowa 14LSU -8, 48Underdog, Under
2013South Carolina 33 Michigan 28South Carolina -5.5, 47.5Underdog, Over
2012Michigan State 33 Georgia 30 (3OT)Georgia -2.5, 48Underdog, Over
2011Florida 37 Penn State 24Florida -7, 48Favorite, Over
2010Auburn 38 Northwestern 35 (OT)Auburn -9, 54.5Underdog, Over
2009Iowa 31 South Carolina 10Iowa -3.5, 42Favorite, Under
2008Tennessee 21 Wisconsin 17Tennessee -2.5, 56Favorite, Under
2007Penn State 20 Tennessee 10Tennessee -4, 41.5Underdog, Under
2006Florida 31 Iowa 24Iowa -1, 50Underdog, Over
2005Georgia 24 Wisconsin 21Georgia -7, 40Underdog, Over
2004Iowa 37 Florida 17Florida -4, 46.5Underdog, Over
2003Michigan 38 Florida 30Michigan -1.5, 46.5Favorite, Over
2002South Carolina 31 Ohio State 28Pick-em, 40.5Over
2001South Carolina 24 Ohio State 7Ohio State -6.5, 43.5Underdog, Under
2000Georgia 28 Purdue 25 (OT)Georgia -5.5, 62.5Underdog, Under
1999Penn State 26 Kentucky 14Penn State -8.5, 62.5Favorite, Under
1998Georgia 33 Wisconsin 6Georgia -8.5, 47.5Favorite, Under
1997Alabama 17 Michigan 14Alabama -1, 36.5Favorite, Under
1996Penn State 43 Auburn 14Penn State -2.5, 53Favorite, Over
1995Wisconsin 34 Duke 20Wisconsin -8, 52Favorite, Over
1994Michigan 42 NC State 7Michigan -14.5, 48.5Favorite, Over
1993Tennessee 38 Boston College 23Tennessee -3.5, 47.5Favorite, Over
1992Syracuse 24 Ohio State 17Syracuse -3.5, 38Favorite, Over
1991Clemson 30 Illinois 0Clemson -2, 35.5Favorite, Under
1990Auburn 31 Ohio State 14--
1989Syracuse 23 LSU 10--
1988Michigan 28 Alabama 24--
1986Boston College 27 Georgia 24--
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