Oregon Ducks vs. Arizona State Sun Devils Pick 11/23/19
Oregon Ducks 9-1 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (5-5 SU, 3-6-1 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date and Time: Saturday, November 23, 2019 at 7:30PM EST
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
Point Spread: ORE -14.5/ASU +14.5 (Best Odds)
Over/Under Total: 54.5
The Oregon Ducks take on the Arizona State Sun Devils in Pac-12 action in Tempe on Saturday. With two regular-season games left and then the conference title game, Oregon can just keep winning and hope for the best, as they are currently on the outside looking in as far as the CFP is concerned. But they’re doing what they’re supposed to—laying conference opposition to waste, including last week’s 34-6 win over Arizona. Arizona State’s goals are more modest. The Herman Edwards-led team is in the midst of a freefall, squandering a 5-1 start with four straight losses, including a 35-34 loss to the Beavers last week. They are now hoping to get into a bowl game. Can they make a run at the spread? Or are they catching the Ducks at the wrong time?
The Sun Devils: As Bad as it Looks?
Being at 5-5 after a 5-1 start is pretty rough, and all the losses in the conference have started taking an emotional toll on this young squad, as this season has gotten away from them. There is abundant youth on both sides of the ball, and some of this was to be expected, but conference play got off to a pretty good start, with wins over Cal and Washington State. Before you knew it, they were coming apart at the seams. Losing to Utah and USC were one thing, but in falling to Colorado, UCLA, and Oregon State, it wasn’t a good look.
By the same token, there is still an underlying scrappiness to this Arizona State team. In seven conference games this season, five have been decided by one score. They caught a lot of road games later in the season, with three of their last four games being away from home. Maybe it wore a young team down a bit. But for whatever it’s worth, no team has beaten them up on their field this season, with a five-point loss to USC their worst defeat at home this season. They’ve been pretty scrappy, but not that much perhaps, as they’ve failed to cover the spread since October 12 and only have three covers on the whole season.
Oregon Peaking at the Right Time?
Oregon is guaranteed a spot in the Pac-12 title game, so they could be expected to maybe look past a team of the Sun Devils’ caliber, if not for them gunning for the College Football Playoff. Oregon covering the spread in four out of their last five games attests to the urgency in which they are playing. Their point-totals have swelled the previous handful of weeks, with their defense lending a helping hand.
QB Justin Herbert is in good form as of late, seeing his completion rate rise the last several weeks and throwing for a season-high 333 yards last week in the win over Arizona. There are a lot of weapons to use on a substandard ASU defense. Aerially, and this will be key, Herbert works with a varied cast, including Johnny Johnson, III., Jaylon Redd, Juwan Johnson, and others. But with CJ Verdell (questionable) and Travis Dye running loose on this group, it could get ugly. The Oregon offense might not knock your socks off in any one area, but with a lot of balance and consistency, they’re among the best of the west. Seldom is there a week where they don’t deliver and this would be a weird week for them to fall short.
But it might actually be the Oregon defense that tilts this one in their favor. A big point spread or not, Arizona St. is going to have to put up some points to make a run at this cover, something they haven’t always done against the better defenses they have faced this season. Sure, against offenses like Washington State, USC, and Washington, the Oregon “D” has given up points. But against other low-end conference teams like Stanford, Cal, Colorado, and Arizona, they have allowed a combined 19 points in those four games. Where Arizona fits into that equation remains to be seen, but it’s likely toward the lower end of this equation.
Glaring Matchup Issues
A few that stand out is the balance of Oregon on both sides of the ball, in addition to an Arizona State pass-defense that should get picked apart with impunity by Herbert and his various targets. Oregon is a hard team to exploit, solid across all areas. Even with Sun Devils’ quarterback Jayden Daniels getting better. Able to connect with a top target like Brandon Aiyuk, along with Frank Darby and a decent back in Eno Benjamin, it might not be enough for an Oregon defense that is allowing just over 14 points a game this season. There is a reason the Ducks have stayed unbeaten and have long since locked up the division. And since losing a game they should have won in week one to Auburn, they’ve had a nose for success and are right on the cusp of big things. This “D” is a big reason why having gotten through a conference full of scary offenses unscathed.
Lay the Points
It’s not hard to make a case that ASU can put up some points and maybe be a little stiffer at home, a place where no one has disrespected them this season, certainly not to the tune of what this number is. But I see a stance on Oregon as the more positive move. The Sun Devils could be tough, with this being their last chance to do something big this season. But it seems like keeping this one close might be a little out of range for them, and the spread might be a bit gratuitous for ASU with them being at home, despite Oregon playing well away from home this season. I’m taking the Ducks.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Oregon Ducks minus 14.5 points.
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