The Illinois Fighting Illini have grown to define Big Ten football. Over the years, this has become one of the most popular national conferences for the sport. With the expansion of legal sports betting across the US, the Big Ten commands quite a bit of attention during football season.
In the tradition of big-time college football in the Midwest, the program at University of Illinois in Champaign first made its official debut in 1892. A few years later, the Fighting Illini found a home in the Western Conference.
Illinois played in the Western Conference until 1952 along with teams such as Ohio State, Michigan and Indiana. The following season, the Big Ten made its official debut. As a charter member of college football’s first true major conference, the Fighting Illini have earned their status on the national stage.
The Illinois football program won the Rose Bowl twice in six seasons (1946 and 1951) with Ray Elliot as head coach. It added a third Rose Bowl title in 1963 with Pete Elliott leading the team. Following more than a few lean seasons, Illinois was consistently in the national rankings during the 1980’s and 1990’s.
With Mike White as head coach, the Fighting Illinois were ranked as high as No. 4 during the 1983 season. Led by John Mackovic, they reached No. 5 in that national polls in 1990. During Ron Zook’s seven seasons as head coach (2005 to 2011), Illinois qualified for a postseason bowl three times. This run includes a trip to the 2008 Rose Bowl after going 9-4 in the 2007 regular season.
Playing in the Big Ten has created some great rivalries over the years. Illinois plays in the West Division to set up annual showdowns against Iowa, Wisconsin, Purdue and Nebraska. Betting the UNDER in these black and blue brawls has turned into a popular wager.
If the total line was set at 44 points in a game against Wisconsin, the Fighting Illini and Badgers would have to score a combined 43 points or less to pay off on an UNDER bet on the game.
Sports betting in the state of Illinois has been legal since 2019. This high-profile Midwest market is bolstered by Chicago as a major sports betting town. The state offers legal sports betting through retail sportsbooks located in land-based casinos. There is also a wide selection of mobile sportsbook operators for betting the games online.
When the laws were first passed to legalize sports betting, wagers on in-state college teams such as the Illinois Fighting Illini were not permitted through online mobile apps. For now, the only way to bet on Illinois football in Illinois is at a retail sportsbook in an in-state casino.