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Pick - Trends
Even though this is a conference game, the last time these teams played each other was in 2010 so there isn't a ton of familiarity between them. Arizona State squeaked by Wisconsin last weekend with a little help from the refs, while Stanford got win number two, but it wasn't all that impressive for the No. 5 team in the nation. Because of the Cardinal's slow start, they are only listed as -7.5 point favorites at GTBets Sportsbook.
The betting trends at sportsbook.com show 68% of the early action in this game has come in on Stanford.
Stanford had one of the best defenses in the country last season, but this year hasn't gone as smoothly. Even though they have two wins, giving up 20 points to a run-heavy Army squad wasn't all that great. Maybe they're taking things slowly before entering Pac-12 play, maybe not. We'll find out this weekend.
Arizona State has nothing to complain about, especially after last Saturday's controversial win over Wisconsin by two points. The offensive duo of QB Taylor Kelly and RB Marion Grice is going to be a problem for everyone they face. Kelly tossed for 352 yards and Grice rushed for four touchdowns against the Badgers. Both players already looked improved from last year's strong campaigns. Receiver Jaelen Strong provides a big body in the passing game and looks set to break out in his sophomore season.
If Stanford's defense can't reach last year's level, this game is going to have plenty of scoring, much like ASU's game last weekend against Wisconsin. The Cardinal has a pretty potent offense as well, although with some new faces.
Quarterback Kevin Hogan has done everything that's been required of him, but the question is if he can make the big throws in close games. He's joined by Tyler Gaffney in the backfield, who hasn't had much challenge so far rushing for 236 yards and three TDs in the first two games. Wide receiver Ty Montgomery looks to be in for his best season yet as a junior, already with 211 yards and two TDs. Without guys like Stepfan Taylor and Zach Ertz in the offense, we still don't know what they can do when dealing with adversity.
The Sun Devils are currently ranked, but it's going to take a lot to stay there after their next three games. After Stanford, they get USC and Notre Dame. Their defense was strong for the most part last year outside of a four-game losing streak, and it will need to step up in this game. Stanford doesn't have an overbearing offense like some Pac-12 teams, so the opportunity to make plays is there. Wisconsin rushed all over ASU last week for 231 yards, which is something they can't let Gaffney do.
Arizona State has covered in four of its last five games, but is 2-5 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. Stanford has a lot of positive trends, covering four of its last five conference games, although it has not covered in three of the last four, including two losses in the first two games this year. With how these two defenses have played so far, it may be worth it to look at the over, which is 11-4 in the Sun Devils last 15 road games. The home team is 8-2-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings between these schools.
Our model is at it's best when it picks underdogs to win straight up. We only have 2 weeks of data for these teams, but the model says Arizona State wins this one. So we'll take the points here. Arizona State +6
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