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After strong starts for each team, it doesn't look like either of them is everything they were hyped up to be. Stanford started 3-0 and had a huge win over then-ranked No. 2 USC. Arizona also was 3-0 and beat then-ranked No. 18 Oklahoma State. Since those hot starts, neither team has won again. The Cardinal lost most recently in a Thursday night game at Washington while the Wildcats got shellacked by Oregon and most recently lost at home to Oregon State. Which team will snap out of their funk in this one?
Excluding the Oregon game, Arizona's offense has been solid. Even though they lost to Oregon State, the Wildcats were still able to put 35 points on the board, the most given up by the Beavers this season. In fact, they are ninth in the nation with 343.8 passing yards per game. QB Matt Scott has looked electric in the no huddle for them totaling 1,608 yards and 10 TDs. He can also move on the ground with 228 yards and two TDs. WRs Austin Hill and Dan Buckner have excelled combining for 62 receptions, 865 yards and five TDs. The ground game is run through Ka'Deem Carey who is in his first season as a full-time RB. He already has 538 yards and seven touchdowns.
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Stanford's problem isn't on the defensive end though. They haven't allowed more than 17 points this season and that includes holding USC to 14. Their loss to Washington was due to an inefficient offense that could only score 13 points on the road. Josh Nunes isn't Andrew Luck and his numbers show that. He's completing just 52 percent of his passes for 785 yards, six TDs and four interceptions. Quite a difference from the super-efficient QB play we've seen from Luck. A lot of the offense is run through Stepfan Taylor who has 88 carries for 413 yards and three TDs. If he can't get going, Stanford is in trouble. That's what happened at Washington when he only had 75 yards with a 3.6 yards per carry average. Arizona's run defense isn't fantastic though which is why Cardinal has the advantage here.
The last two times these teams have met, it's been a Stanford blowout. In last year's 37-10 win, Taylor ran loose for 153 yards on 22 carries. He'll have to do that again if Stanford wants to come out on top in this game. Also in that game Luck finished with 325 yards, two TDs and no INTs. Nunes will have to have his best game of the season if he wants to match those numbers.
In this meeting, the Cardinal has covered seven of the past nine games. They've also won four of the past five games even though they were only favorites twice. Stanford is a much better team at home going 22-8 ATS in their last 30 home games. The Wildcats on the other hand are 1-4 ATS in their last five road games and 4-11 ATS against a team with a winning record. Also, the under has hit six times in the last eight games between these teams.
There are times when you have to go with your gut, and not your numbers. In this spot, there are suggestions from some of our numbers that Stanford is the right side. Our model for instance, has Stanford on top 30-16 and Stanford's yards per point numbers are very good, much better than Arizona's. (But you also have to figure in that Arizona played a schedule almost 10 points more difficult.)
Our gut however, is very worried about the Stanford offense being able to put enough points on the board to cover this number. Arizona, thus far, looks like a team that will always be dangerous as a dog this year as they can put some points on the board.
This game is a pass for us, but here's something else to keep in mind. At one time this week, you could have had +12 if you likes Arizona. The line has since crossed over the +10 and gone all the way down to +9. From a value standpoint, you simply cannot bet Arizona. The value now lies on the Stanford side at -9 or better. This is something we preach all the time. If you threw the handicapping out the window and just bet the sides at the best numbers possible each week, you'd have just as good of a chance to come out on top. This one is a Lean Only - Stanford -9
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