Arizona State Sun Devils (5-6 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. Arizona Wildcats (2-9 SU, 1-10 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date/Time: Friday, November 25, 2016 at 9:30PM EST
Where: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
By Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ASU -3/ARIZ +3
Over/Under Total: 68.5
The Arizona State Sun Devils come into Tucson to face the Arizona Wildcats on Friday in Pac-12 action. The Sun Devils are 5-6 and looking to become bowl eligible with a win over the Arizona Wildcats, their in-state rival. The odds favor an ASU win with Arizona in such a sad state heading into their season finale. Rich Rodriguezí team has been besieged by injuries this season and lost their 8th straight game on Saturday, with their only wins this season over Grambling and Hawaii earlier in the campaign. Arizona State fell to Washington, 44-18, on Saturday, though they did manage to cover the spread for the 6th time this season. Arizona, meanwhile is a miserable 1-10 against the spread in 2016.
The highlights for Arizona have been minimal this season. On Saturday, they started Anu Solomon, their starting QB who was lost in the first game of the season. But as is customary with a team that canít catch a break this season, Solomon was injured in the first quarter, with Brandon Dawkins taking over. With Solomon wearing a boot, one shouldnít expect much of him on Friday. With all the key contributors of what was not going to be much more than a middling offense missing, this group has sunk like a rock and are ranked 113th in the nation in scoring.
Itís been a really sour run for Arizona, with their recent run of scores looking like SMU when they got reinstated after getting the NCAA death sentence. Since pushing Washington to overtime in week four, itís been one whipping after the next. In their last five games, the closest theyíve gotten was a 34-10 loss to Stanford. Thatís their best result in the past five games. The young Dawkins has done the best he can with a bare cast of players remaining. Dawkins has been a huge part of the offense and is their leading rusher with 720 yards and 8 touchdowns. Through the air, Shun Brown and Trey Griffey have been OK, but no one on this offense has really shined.
The Arizona defense has been anything but robust this season with some opposing offenses having field days against this bunch. They are 120th in points allowed with nearly an average of 40 a game and thatís after giving up an average of less than 20 in their first three games. There is nothing they do particularly well. They havenít really gotten any standout individual performances. They havenít been clutch in the least all season. The Wildcats defense doesnít really come up with many big plays in the secondary and the pass-rush has been missing for big chunks of games this season. You have to wonder what is left in the gas tank at this point
In comparison, the Sun Devils donít look so bad, but they have had their share of issues this season en route to a 2-6 conference record and a run of five straight losses heading into this game. Their loss to Washington on Saturday was expected and they did cover the spread, but itís been a bad run for ASU after starting the season 4-0. Their defense deteriorated increasingly over the course of the season. The offense has been unable to consistently apply a running game and the aerial attack has been inconsistent at best.
The Sun Devils average 33.2 points a game. QB Manny Wilkins is an interesting player and can run well at times, but he hasnít really been able to deliver at this level. The run game has been negligible, which is a shame with Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage underperforming all season behind a rough-looking line. Receivers Tim White and KíNeal Harry have been productive, with Richard adding a short-pass option. They have a decent offense. It hasnít really gotten better over the season. But with a defense that has plummeted into full-slapstick mode, itís hard to look good sometimes.
Out of 128 teams, the ASU defense ranks 125th. Their pass-defense is dead-last at 128th, giving up an average of 382.9 yards a game. Thatís almost 50 yards more than what the 127th-ranked team is allowing per game. They get some decent individual performances in the playmaking area, with Koron Crump adding a pass-rush element and Gump Hayes making some plays in the secondary. But thatís overshadowed by a complete lack of stoutness across all phases of this unit.
The tendency when looking at this game will be to marvel at the inadequacy of Arizona and ponder how awful of a slide theyíve been on. Thatís not an altogether faulty perception, as long as it doesnít distract you from taking a hard look at the downward spiral Arizona is in heading into the regular season finale. In their last several games, theyíve looked half-dead at times and havenít been coming close to getting a ďW.Ē Theyíve been covering the spread at least and actually have something to play for other than just ending the season on a positive note, which is Arizonaís sole motivation at this point.
This looks like a tricky one. The spread of ASU by just a field goal seems almost too good to be true and you know what they say about those scenarios. Then again, when watching ASU lately, one wouldnít peg them as a road favorite in a conference game. But thatís what they are against an Arizona team that hasnít covered the spread since September 24. While the temptation is to go with the more psychologically-cagey play on Arizona, I just canít bring myself to do it. That means going with the admittedly squarer play and taking the Sun Devils.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím betting on the Arizona State Sun Devils minus 3 points.
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