NCAAF · Fri (10/8) @ 10:57pm ET
|Sun Devil Football Stadium, Tempe, Arizona|
Our Pick: ASU Arizona State at Over 39 (+117). Get a risk-free bet up to $1,000 at FanDuel!
Sure, it’s only the midway point in the season. So far, though, the Sun Devils’ defense has been acting as if Bruce Snyder is coaching and linebacker Pat Tillman is auditioning, very well, for the NFL.
What tilts the scales to Over is ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels, a premier national figure who gets a national ESPN television audience to show off his considerable skills.
Stanford Cardinal (3-2)
The Cardinal is tricky, as exhibited by its odd 24-7 defeat to Kansas State at a neutral site, large numbers in victories at USC and Vandy, a big upending of national title-aspirant Oregon and more big numbers in a home loss to UCLA.
That’s a lot to digest. In reality, though, it has a suspect defense that was wonderfully exploited by the Bruins’ fabulous quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
We nearly make ASU third-year sophomore Daniels a mirror image of DTR, but we’ll get to Daniels. We need to hone in on this Stanford rush defense that will be its downfall at Sun Devil Stadium.
The Cardinal allows 5.1 yards per run, placing it in the bottom fifth of the country. It yields 215 rushing yards per game, which is in the aforementioned low-rent neighborhood. It yields 30 points a game on the road.
ASU gets 5.6 yards per run, and only 10 teams average more than the Devils. That’s what will break Stanford. Overall, ASU averages 7.2 yards a play, third-best in the game. Good luck, Cardinal.
Junior Rachaad White (6-2, 195) gets the brunt of ASU’s carries, having gained 325 yards on 64 runs, with eight touchdowns. And redshirt freshman Daniyel Ngata (5-9, 185) has emerged in a big way, with a 6.8-yard average (on 32 carries) that’s among the country’s top-30 rushers.
But Daniels will confound the Cardinal, because his average of 7 yards per carry is 26th in the country. Stanford’s linebackers will have to monitor this quarterback closer than usual, and those half- or full steps will be costly in defending the pass.
Stanford At Arizona State Full Sportsbook Odds
Arizona State Sun Devils (4-1)
So Daniels (6-3, 185) can scamper better than every other quarterback in the nation, except for DeQuan Finn of Toledo, Christian Anderson of Army and Rocky Lombardi of Northern Illinois.
That’s beyond impressive. It’s lethal. The extra twist is that his 9.6 yards-per-attempt ratio is 10th in the country. His 71.9% completion rate is ninth in the nation. He only has four passing touchdowns, because the Devils can run it so well.
Two of his ridiculous targets are 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman Johnny Wilson (12 catches for 154 yards), and fifth-year senior tight end Curtis Hodges (6-7, 245), who averages 22.5 yards on eight receptions.
Stanford coach David Shaw should have tapped Cardinal hoops boss Jerod Haase for a few of his power forwards to defend these Devils.
LV Bunkley-Shelton and Ricky Pearsall have 31 combined catches, both averaging 14.1 yards per reception.
And on defense, ASU has been allowing a paltry 18.2 points, a top-10 national figure. The last time the program yielded fewer than 20 points a game, Snyder was coach and Tillman was the middle linebacker.
It went 9-3 in 1997, and would defeat Iowa in the Sun Bowl. That came a season after it flirted with greatness, a loss as the nation’s No. 2 team to No. 4 Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. It allowed 17.5 points in ’97 and 18 in ’96.
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ASU averages 0.524 points per play, 15th in the country. It allows 0.264, 20th-best in football. Stanford is mediocre, but the Devils’ penchant for costly penalties might help keep the Cardinal closer than ASU’s 12-point edge in the line.
We also have a healthy fear of Stanford return men Nathaniel Peat (28.7-yard kickoff average, second in the Pac-12) and true freshman Casey Filkins (14.3 punt average, 12th in the country).
Two of the three models we most prize have the Devils scoring 35 and 40 points. We envision them building a big lead, but an inevitable fourth-quarter letdown allows Stanford to barely cover that double-digit spread.
By then, the Over will have been sealed.