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Arizona State Sun Devils vs. California Golden Bears Point Spread - Pick

Arizona State Sun Devils (3-1 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. California Golden Bears (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS)
College Football Week 5
Date/Time: Friday, September 27, 2019 at 10:30PM EDT
Where: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, California
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: ASU +3/CAL -3
Over/Under Total: 40

The Arizona State Sun Devils come to Memorial Stadium to battle the Cal Golden Bears in big Pac-12 action on Friday. Normally, this game wouldn't garner a ton of attention, but both teams are climbing the ladder of the conference and stand out as early contenders. The Golden Bears have parlayed a strong defense into a fast 4-0 start. On Saturday, they came into Ole Miss and scored the upset win, 28-20. They now look to further their conference resume, which already boasts of a road win at Washington. They battle an Arizona St. team that entered last weekend ranked, before falling in a tough loss to Colorado, 34-31. Their defense, so strong in the first few weeks, faltered a bit and for the second straight season, they slipped right after getting ranked. But it's still early enough to do damage and look for a hungry Sun Devils team to rebound well this week, albeit in a tough road spot.

Cal looks really good and is performing at a high level. As nearly two-touchdown underdogs, they went into Washington and scored a big one-point win. As underdogs on Saturday, they beat Ole Miss by 8, braving an early start-time and a late surge to emerge with a valuable road-victory. Granted, they nearly blew a 28-13 lead, with Ole Miss scoring a late TD and then coming up just short of the goal-line as time ran out. But when Cal goes into Ole Miss and gets the win, you don't split hairs. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you have a program on the rise with good signs on both sides of the ball. With some late big plays late, the Ole Miss offense had Cal on their heels and reeling in a tough environment to play and the defense steeled itself and delivered in a pinch.

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Normally when you think of a dangerous Cal team, offense is the first thing that comes to mind. One might envision a high-wire aerial act with a defense that sometimes shows up and sometimes does not. That's not the case with this Cal team, though the offense was fairly prolific on Saturday. QB Chase Garbers threw four touchdowns on 357 yards through the air. Ball-catchers Jordan Duncan, Jake Tonges, and Nikko Remigio all had good days, while WR Trevon Clark and RB Christopher Brown, Jr. also caught TD passes. It was refreshing to see Garbers be able to air it out. And with their defense, having the ability to pick up big chunks of yardage through the air could really give some credence to this squad's overall hopes this season.

The Cal defense has picked up where it left off last season, showing its teeth through four games this season. They gave up only 19 to a home Washington bunch, before holding a home Ole Miss offense to 20 points. The run-defense has been solid and they were again on Saturday. Winning a tight one in Washington and forging a goal-line stand on the road against Ole Miss also points to a certain clutch-element this Cal "D" brings to the table. Linebacker Evan Weaver made the final big play, one of his 22 tackles on the day. And they need it, as they were weak in the middle with Cam Goode, Tevin Paul, and Ben Hawk Schrider out with injuries. It was a strange look in the first half with the defense struggling, as the Cal passing-game flourished. It was like old times. But they tightened up in the second half and made enough clutch plays late to help seal the deal. Still, the defense is the strong suit of the team and it'd be nice for them to be closer to full-power for this game.

The ASU offense wasn't electric overall in their 31-point output at home against Colorado on Saturday. Still, quarterback Jayden Daniels threw for a robust 345 yards. Emerging receiver Brandon Aiyuk caught 9 balls for 122 yards and a TD. Running back Eno Benjamin showed some life for the first time this season and ran for two touchdowns. It's just odd on a day where the offense actually performed well; the "D" wasn't nearly as stout as usual. This offense, despite abundant talent, needs to develop better consistency and show they are a force every week to compete in this conference, especially in games like this, facing a tough defense. Arizona State still only scored 19 against Sacramento and ten against Michigan State, albeit both in winning efforts.

On one hand, it was a setback last week when a Sun Devils' defense that had given up one TD in all three of their wins allowed 34 to Colorado at home in their conference-opener on Saturday. But this is the Pac-12 and there are going to be games like that. Against the Buffaloes, they gave up 475 yards, quite a comedown from the group that allowed 21 points combined in three games this season. They didn't get after Steven Montez very much on Saturday, at times pushed around by the Colorado offensive line. They just weren't very impactful. This week, they will have to show they are for real. Holding a home Michigan State team to 7 points is nice, but look for this group to be pushing to show they are a real asset in these kinds of spots.

The Sun Devils have a lot to prove and need to come into this game with a lot of fire on both sides of the ball. The offense needs to thrive on the road against one of the best defenses in the conference. And a defense that seemed leaky in its conference debut needs to reclaim its stature against an offense that seemed to find new life last week. There's some real enthusiasm around this Cal program and this isn't going to be an easy road-spot for the Sun Devils. I like Cal to win and cover the spread this week.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the California Golden Bears minus 3 points. Bet the ASU-CAL game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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