College Football Pick
Of the eight SEC teams ranked in the AP Top 25, it was a bit of a surprise to see Texas A&M not among them. The Aggies will get to prove that they belong, though, with a win in their first Game at No. 15 Arizona State. Playing in NRG Stadium in Houston, the Sun Devils are a -3.5 point favorite at 5 Dimes.
Three-year starting quarterback Taylor Kelly is gone, but fifth-year senior Mike Bercovici, who has seemingly waited forever for his chance to start, will now lead Arizona State. His time has finally come after limited duty in 2014 when Kelly got hurt. He led the Sun Devils to a 38-34 win with the help of a Hail Mary, and finished the season completing 61.8% of his 186 pass attempts for 12 TDs and Four interceptions. He may not have the athleticism of Kelly, but there should be no drop off in the passing Game for ASU.
Receiver Jaelen Strong is gone, but D.J. Foster is back for another year and will take over full-time as a wide receiver even after racking up over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground last year. The running Game will now be led by sophomore Demario Richard, who impressed as a freshman last season. The bulk of ASU’s offensive line is back as well, so expect plenty of points once again from this group, even with Bercovici. This has been a Top 20 scoring offense every season since Todd Graham took over as head coach.
And that’s an issue for Texas A&M, who has not had a good defense for a number of years now, often aiming to outScoreopponents. That could change soon, though, as the Aggies brought in former LSU coordinator John Chavis to lead them, and he brings more of an attacking style. They’ll have some pieces like end Myles Garrett, but this defense still has a long way to go before becoming an elite unit.
That said, will Texas A&M be able to keep up with Arizona State? Probably.
The Sun Devils aren’t generally a great defense either, but they have been better than the Aggies, and with nine starters returning, they have the pieces to be better this year. ASU likes to get after opposing QBs, they ranked in the Top 15 in sacks last year and were sixth in the nation in turnover margin.
That’s where quarterback Kyle Allen steps in for Texas A&M. Even with a top incoming freshman, Allen is the hands down QB in his sophomore season. He took over for Kenny Hill at the end of last year and had mixed results, but had impressive wins at Auburn and against West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl. Allen finished 2014 with a 61.5% completion rate on 192 passes to go with 16 TDs and seven interceptions.
It’s well known that this offense can Scoreand Allen steps in as the next QB to lead this group for a number of years. He has plenty of pieces around him as well, with one of the better receiving corps in the SEC with Josh Reynolds (52 receptions), Speedy Noil (46 receptions) and Ricky Seals-Jones (49 receptions). Throw in a deep backfield with Tra Carson and Brandon Williams as well as three starters returning to a top offensive line, and this group should be better than a year ago with more consistency.
This will be a fun early-season Game between the SEC and Pac-12 with two quarterbacks in unfamiliar roles as opening-Game starters. ASU has the edge with an expected better defense, but with a new coordinator this could be the year that Texas A&M turns the corner.
Our Pick – Texas AM started last season in spectacular fashion with a big win over South Carolina. They then padded their record with some cupcakes, beat Arkansas in OT and then faded greatly when they took on the meat of their Schedule, going 3-5 down the stretch.
Meanwhile, Arizona State knocked off UCLA, USC, Stanford, Washington, Utah, Notre Dame and Duke. Not bad and they would appear to be in much better shape going in than the Aggies in terms of returning talent.
If we took the last 7 Games worth of data from a year ago and pugged them into Our model (which we did), the model has Arizona State winning outright by a score of 37-31.
Points well worth taking here. Arizona State +3.5