Arizona State vs. Arizona
Betting Line: Arizona -6
It’s been a season of hard knocks for the 5-6 Arizona State Sun Devils. They own modest wins over Washington and UCLA, but have lost many close Games against top opponents. They lost to USC, Wisconsin, and Stanford by a combined 5 points. Don’t let their record fool you. This team can play some football and they will be looking to do their best work against in state rival Arizona. The Wildcats have dropped three straight, losing to Stanford, USC and Oregon. They were able to beat Big Ten stalwart Iowa early in the year. Mike Stoop’s team sits at 7-4 entering this Game. Let’s take a look at how these teams match up who is likely to be the victor when all is said and done.
Bookmaker has tabbed the Wildcats as a 6.5 point home favorite. They are a poor 2-6 ATS in their last 8 Games. The Sun Devils are much more solid at 4-1-1 in their last 6 Games. The Sun Devils are averaging 32.5 PPG compared to 29.8 for the Wildcats. The Sun Devils are allowing 24.6 PPG compared to 20.8 PPG for the Wildcats. This rivalry Game has seen the Wildcats take 3 in a row. The total has come under in the last 5 meetings in a row.
It’s never good to lose a starting QB, but it could be just the right medicine for the floundering Sun Devils. QB Steve Threet left the Game with a coNCussion early in the Game against UCLA last week and sophomore Brock Osweiler took his place. He left them rally from a 17 point deficit to win by a score of 55-34. The youngster put in one of the best efforts from a new QB that we have ever seen by completing 27 of 36 passes for 380 yards and 4 TDs. He added a 5th TD on the ground. This guy was truly a blessing in disguise. He will have to do it again against the Wildcats for his team to have a chance. Throw in RB Cameron Marshall who has 724 yards and 8 TDs this year and we think the kid will do just fine!
While the Sun Devils have the new kid on the block, the Wildcats will rely on faithful upperclassmen QB Nick Foles, RB Nic Grinsby, and RB Keola Antolin. Foles looked great last week against Oregon passing for 448 yards, 3 TDs, and a INT, but that wasn’t good enough as the nation’s number one team stormed by to win 48-29. Gringsby and Antolin were completely ineffective against the Ducks and will have to rectify that this week with a big Game against their rival. They have combined for 1,051 and 15 TDs this year. Most of their big Games have come against weaker teams like Washington and Washington State, so it will be interesting to see if they can move the ball on the ground against an above average rush defense like that of the Sun Devils.
Arizona State’s defense gives up 24.6 PPG which puts them at 54th in the nation. They have given up 400+ yards in a Game several times this year, but against big time opponents like Wisconsin and Oregon. The Sun Devils don’t get enough pressure on the QB and have problems in the secondary. WE can expect Stoop’s to attack them through the air with QB Nick Foles. If the Sun Devils want to win they will have to make sure Foles sees the ground and play excellent man to man coverage with his WRs.
Arizona’s defense is rock solid, but not nearly as good as it looks on paper. Teams like Oregon and Stanford have exploited them for 500+ yards. In the past 7 Games they have only sacked the opposing QB 7 times. With Osweiler starting for the Sun Devils it will be key to create havoc in the pocket. Can they do that in this big home Game?
We’re going to play this one strictly by the numbers here. We have the margin in this one closer than 6. Arizona State has lost the last two in this rivalry, with last years being a 3 point Game. We see another close one here. Arizona State +6