West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (6-6 SU, 5-7 ATS)
College Football Cactus Bowl
Date/Time: Saturday, January 2, 10:15pm
Where: Chase Field Phoenix, Arizona
by Bob, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WVA +1 / ASU -1
Over/Under Total: 64.5
When I got my assignment to write an article on the Cactus Bowl, my first though was, what the hell is the Cactus Bowl? After doing some research I found that this is the first time it has been called the Cactus Bowl. This particular game has been pimped out to corporate America more than any other game I can think of. Since 1990, this game has been called the Dominos Pizza Bowl, the Weisler Lock Bowl, Insight Enterprises Bowl, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Ticket City Bowl, and now the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.Motel 6? Really? Anyhow, I digress, lets move on to the two teams who will be participating in this game.
This years game will feature the 7-5 West Virginia Mountaineers against the 6-6 Arizona State Sun Devils. Neither team had a very impressive 2015, and games like this go not intrigue me at all. It is a game between two teams that need to be looking forward to 2016 and getting better rather than messing around in a game that no one has heard of nor cares about. I may seem bitter in this game breakdown, but I think college football would be better off with about 10 less bowl games, however, I get it, money talks.
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The line on this game is almost an even pick game and in some books it actually is. Most books however, has Arizona State favored by a point over West Virginia while the total points are a high 64.5 combined between the two teams. Against the spread this season, both teams went 5-7 and as of Tuesday night, 55% of the action was on West Virginia to get the win/cover. This means that this betting line probably will not change much from now til kickoff.
Arizona State did not have a good season, at all. Their one shining moment of 2015 was when they upset the UCLA Bruins 38-23 in Los Angeles. The Bruins at the time were the 7th ranked team in the nation and were playing for a potential Pac-12 title and Final Four appearance. Other than that victory, the Arizona State season was just sorta, blah. Finishing 6-6 overall and 4-5 in conference play, the ASU alumni and fans are looking for a brighter 2016 next year. The Sun Devils offense was atually rather successful in 2015, it was the defense that was the cause of a few of the losses. Twice this season, Arizona State lost games in which they scored over 30 points. The worst of them all was the 61-55 loss to Oregon but a close second was the other game that they dropped to Cal by a 48-46 final. Not only does winning those two games make them 8-4, which looks so much better than 6-6, but the conference record would have been 6-4 and over .500. Not that it matters all that much, but still, close losses are always heartbreaking, especially when one side of the ball is 90% responsible for the loss. The key to this game is simple for ASU, play some defense! If they let the high powered West Virginia offense get going it could get really ugly really fast.
West Virginia had a slightly better season than Arizona State, but it still was not very impressive. However, take a look at the Mountaineers schedule. It could possibly be the toughest I have seen in 2015 once all the smoke cleared. They played Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU, and Kansas State on the road. Name me five teams that could survive that gauntlet! Yeah, did not think so. The West Virginia offense played well all season and to be honest, their defense held up pretty well for the most part. It is hard to truly gauge this team due to that schedule. West Virginia could possibly be 20 points better than Arizona State, we just look at their overall record and immediately think that they are a middle of the road team in 2015. The key to West Virginia getting this win is simple, get the offense rolling. We already know that Arizona State struggles on defense, so if Mountaineers QB Skyler Howard and running back, Wendell Smallwood can get going, this could be a fun one to watchat least if you are a fan of offense.
I think many people are under valuing the West Virginia Mountaineers. Dont get me wrong, I dont think they are a top 25 team or anything, but in this game I like them and like them to win BIG. I can see West Virginia beating Arizona State like a drum and winning this game something like 45-30.
Bobs Pick to Cover the Point Spread: TAKE WEST VIRGINIA AND TAKE THEM BIG
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