College Football Pick
Most people have already given Washington the title in the Pac-12 with their dominant play this season, but in-state rival Washington State can’t be overlooked. The Cougars failed to cover last week, and still aren’t getting much respect from Vegas, opening as a -7 point road favorite against Arizona State.
Not many have had a better recent run of wins than the Cougars, having taken out Oregon, Stanford and UCLA in their past three Games. And as long as this play continues, it wouldn’t be that surprising if they met the Huskies in the final Game of the regular season with both teams sporting undefeated Pac-12 records. To boot, Washington State will be at home for that meeting.
As for this Game, Arizona State isn’t a walkover, but the Sun Devils have a hurt quarterback and just got beat up by Colorado. That said, the week before that they beat UCLA and have already outscored teams like Texas Tech and California.
But the problem right now is the health of starting quarterback Manny Wilkins, who fought through injury to start last Game against the Buffs. He played, but was constantly blitzed and finished 13-of-35 for 149 yards. With backup quarterback Brady White out, Wilkins will probably do the same this week and the result could be similar. The Sun Devils want to try and run a little more behind Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage, but without a good defense, that’s hard to do, especially against a team like Wazzu.
The Cougars are known for their air-it-out attack, but against UCLA, were forced to play a somewhat different type of football. While LUke Falk still threw the ball 48 times, he didn’t have great success against UCLA’s press coverage. Surprisingly, and maybe something this team hasn’t done in a while, was win via the ground Game (35 carries, 95 yards, 3 TDs — sacks included) and solid defense.
However, Arizona State doesn’t play the same type of defense as UCLA so the Cougars should get back to their high scoring ways and Falk could be at 400 or so yards as he’s done in the past. With that being the case, ASU knows they’ll have to put points on the board, something they couldn’t do at Colorado. Will that change at home against a Washington State defense that has seemingly gotten better by the week?
If Wilkins starts and isn’t 100%, it’s hard to see the Sun Devils keeping up. The run Game remains questionable on 3.9 yards per carry, and Wilkins is simply a mediocre QB if he can’t be as mobile due to a high ankle sprain. The last couple times out, Wilkins couldn’t move as well and that in turn hurt the offense as a whole. Considering high ankle sprains take a few weeks to get fully healthy, Wilkins could have problems once again.
The result could easily go the same way it did a year ago when Falk and the passing Game were too much with 497 yards and five touchdowns in a 38-24 win. The Cougars needed 21 points in the Fourth quarter, but this ASU pass defense isn’t much better than a year ago. In addition, it’s a wonder if the Sun Devils can reach that rushing total in last year’s Game when Richard and Ballage combined for 189 yards. The Cougars are cruising at the moment, and it’d be hard to bet against them with a team that’s starting a hurt quarterback.
Our Pick – Wash St -7.5