Arizona State Sun Devils (4-2 SU, 2-4 ATS) vs. Utah Utes (5-0 SU, 3-2 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date/Time: Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 8:00PM EST
Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ASU +7/UTAH -7
Over/Under Total: 56.5
The 4th ranked Utah Utes host the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday in big Pac-12 Conference action this Saturday. Last Saturday, Utah kept it rolling, going to 5-0 with a well-earned 30-24 win over ranked and unbeaten Cal. They enter this week ranked 4th, but cant afford to overlook an enigmatic Arizona State bunch, who beat 7th-ranked UCLA in a pivotal win two weeks ago, before upending Colorado on Saturday, 48-23. With a chance to unseat two highly-ranked teams in a row, Arizona State has a chance to put their early-season miseries in the rearview.
Its been a topsy-turvy year for the Sun Devils through six games. Some may forget that there were respected people in the college football world saying Arizona State had a chance to win the Pac-12 South and even make the CFP. So it was jarring to see how they opened the seasona one-sided defeat to Texas A&M, a too-close-for-comfort win over FCS foe Cal Poly, another non-cover against New Mexico, followed by a 4-touchdown loss at home to a USC team that soon would unravel. So for them to come onto UCLAs home-field and beat them that way was really eye-opening and they got their second straight cover against Colorado on Saturday.
You have to watch out for these teams that start off horribly, yet show the wherewithal to engineer a total reversal of form in sudden fashion. When watching the Sun Devils early this season, it was frightening. A team that was supposed to contend for big things couldnt do much of anything right. Slews of mistakes poisoned their efforts. Special teams had reached horrific levels of ineptitude. The defense couldnt stop anything. And the O-line struggled massively, as ASUs ample weaponry was left twisting in the wind. Things have changed in the past two weeks.
ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici has thrown 7 touchdowns in his past two games. DJ Foster is peeling off big runs, with Bercovici adding off some key scampers, as well. Receiver Tim White was fantastic last week, with 144 yards and a pair of TD catches. UCLA transfer WR Devin Lucien is getting untracked and youre starting to see some of the things materializing that had people so excited about the Sun Devils in the first place. But even against Colorado, the pass-defense was again exploited and thats an area of concern, even as Utah is not the most high-flying aerial team in the Pac-12.
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With all the dysfunction within the conference, with results coming in weekly that boggle the mind, Utah has managed to stay above the fray. On Saturday, they scored a good win over unbeaten and ranked Cal. They did a lot of the things they are known for and that could possibly lead to a special season for the Utes. Defensively, they were opportunistic, getting 6 turnovers from Cal, including 5 interceptions, some of which came on diving catches. Utah ran the heck out of the ball, with game-changing back Devontae Booker going for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns. The early part of the game was plagued by turnovers by both teams, but after a rough start, QB Travis Wilson got it together and ran this offense well. But as Utah tries to attain bigger success, he will need to be a little better and avoid the mistakes he had on Saturday. Sometimes, his errant throws get him in trouble and while he has improved in that area over the last year or so, hell
occasionally give defenses a chance with off-the-mark passes.
Utah has some eye-opening results this season. Weve seen what Michigan has been able to do since they lost to the Utes. And say what you will about Oregon now, but as double-digit dogs, this Utes bunch went into Autzen Stadium and beat them by 42. Throw in the win over ranked and unbeaten Cal and you have a battle-tested team in the Utes who through 6 weeks, have overcome a lot and beaten some tough teams.
Utah does a lot of the little things and they are actually a really sound team. There are no areas of glaring weaknesses on the team, other than some issues with their pass-defense early in the season. But theyre a team that needs to be beaten, in other words, its hard to imagine a Utah team beating itself, though they were on that road a bit against Cal in the first half last Saturday. Coach Kyle Whittingham has built this team the right away and after a few short years in the Pac-12, theyve gone from doormat, to respectability, to the 4th-ranked team in the country in pretty short order. You cant underestimate the character and inner-makeup of a team that is capable of such upward mobility against all odds.
At the same time, watching Cal have a chance late to win in their game with Utah on Saturday makes one at least able to envision a route for Arizona State to do something similar here this week. Just as one cant underestimate the mental makeup of Utah, Arizona State showed some mettle with their win over UCLA and how theyre starting to look like the team we expected to see weeks ago. With the way ASU is playing the last couple weeks, its not hard to imagine them hanging in there with Utah, with a chance to even win the game. After all, Cal only lost by 6 points to the Utes last week and that was with 6 Cal turnovers. Utah may play better this week, but I look for the Sun Devils to give them a little run for their money.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Arizona State Sun Devils plus 7 points.
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