No. 13 Arizona State Sun Devils (9-2 SU, 6-5 ATS) at No. 12 Arizona Wildcats (9-2 SU, 4-7 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date and Time: November 28, 2014 3:30 p.m. EST.
Where: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ.
by Wilson, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ASU Pk/UA Pk
Over/Under Total: OFF
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The Arizona Wildcats host their in-state rivals this Friday in post-Turkey Day contest not only for bragging rights but for a shot at the Pac 12 South title as well. Both Devils and Cats come in with overall 9-2 marks and 6-2 in the Pac 12, tied for first place. These teams rolled over their opponents last week with ASU pounding Washington State 52-31 and UA hammering then No.15 Utah 42-10. With high powered offenses these squads should provide fans alike with a classic showdown in the desert. The early line on this contest is a pick but some have moved as much as UA -4. Home field advantage is huge in any rivalry game thus UA should settle in as the favorite.
ASU started slow last week letting Washington State get out to an early 21-7 lead but then it was all Sun Devils after in the second half. The Sun Devils took advantage of a weaker Washington State defense and went on a 45-3 run to route the Cougars and remain in the playoff race. It wont be so easy this week to pull away from the Wildcats of course; the Devils will face a much stronger team and one that matches up well across the board. ASU QB Taylor Kelly tossed four TD passes against the Cougs to get the comeback going. The Devils had four interceptions and put points on the board off of all the turnovers which killed the Cougars.
The matchup between the Arizona schools is shaping up to be one of the best in this long rivalry as both teams are nearly identical on paper. ASU averages 37.2 ppg while UA averages 36.2. The Devils allow 26.4 ppg to UAs 24.6. Both teams have similar home and away records, 5-1 at home 4-1 on the road. The only difference is the Devils have a better divisional record at 3-1 while UA is 2-2. These in-state rivalry games are always tough to pick because players seem to bring a different energy and high emotions onto the field. The obvious gut feeling is to take the home team especially with so much riding on the game but ASU may have been tested just enough last week in the first half versus WSU especially on the hangover loss to Oregon State the week before to bring a determined edge to Tucson.
All UA RB Nick Wilson did last week was rush 20 times for 218 yards and 3 TDs. If ASU plans on being this game at all they will need to stop the running attack of the Wildcats. Another key ingredient in this contest will be the health of starting UA QB Anu Solomon, who rolled an ankle that has been bothering him for a while. Solomon has passed for 25 TDs and over 3 thousand yards this season. If Solomon can get healthy and go for the Cats this weekend it will definitely increase their odds of winning. On the other side of the field is ASU QB Taylor Kelly, who, as a senior will surely come into this contest looking to compete and win the battle of QBs especially over a freshmannobody wants to go out their senior year downed by a underclassman. Kelly has the ability to spread the ball around the field but hell have to check off quickly and read UAs defense as they tend hide their packages well.
Ultimately this game comes down to the battle of the QBs and who can slow down the run. Kelly versus Solomon (if healthy) should make this desert showdown a great college football game! If Solomon cant go for UA, then backup QB senior Jesse Scroggins may get the chance hes been waiting for to go out on top after losing the starting role this season. I like Arizona to lock it down on D and get the win at home. Between Nick Wilsons running game and home field advantage the Wildcats send the Devils back to Tempe wondering what happened!
Wilsons Pick: Arizona wins at home straight up.