Utah Utes (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (5-4 SU, 5-4 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date/Time: Thursday, November 10, 2016 at 9:30PM EST
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
TV: Fox Sports 1
By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: UTAH -5.5/ASU +5.5
Over/Under Total: 59
In Pac-12 action on Thursday night, the Utah Utes come to Tempe to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils. Arizona St. last played in week 9, when they lost their third game in a row with a 54-35 loss to nosediving Oregon. They have beaten Cal and UCLA, while also losing to USC, Colorado, and Washington State. Utah, meanwhile, is looking good at 7-2, having also last played on the 29th in a narrow loss to conference top dog Washington. The loss broke a 3-game win streak. They look to get back on the winning track, as they still have a chance in taking the Pac-12 South Division.
Utah was in there with a shot to win against Washington. It was a back-and-forth affair, with Utah always answering, until the Huskies broke a tie late and crossed the finish line ahead. The Utes opened the season 4-0 with wins over BYU and USC. A loss to Cal slowed their momentum, but three wins over Arizona, Oregon State, and UCLA got them on the right track. They now look for another spurt following the tough loss to Washington.
Against Washington, Utah quarterback Troy Williams was not at his best on 14-for-31 passing, but he didn't throw a pick and tossed two touchdowns. It's an offense not really known for its aerial prowess, though they have some weapons in that area, with Tim Patrick, Raelon Singleton, Evan Moeai. and Cory Butler-Byrd. The big dog in the Utah offense is running back Joe Williams. He ran for 172 yards against Washington and has been absolutely on-fire lately. The game before, he put up an obscene 332 against UCLA, which followed a 179-yard showing against Oregon St. Troy Williams has also added 5 TD runs.
As is usually the case with a good Utah team, the defense is their calling card. Their secondary can sometimes be exploited by big chunks of yardage. Other than the 52-45 shootout that they won against UCLA, they haven't allowed more than 31 points this season, with opponents going 23 or below five times. They can be really stingy against the run, though they weren't in their last game against Washington. But it's a group that really gets after it. At times this season, the pass-rush has been robust. They've brought down 15 interceptions on the season with 8 recovered fumbles.
The Sun Devils are looking for a positive development and a win over a good team like Utah would put some wind in their sails. When the season opened, they were putting up high point totals, averaging 48 points a game in the first month of the season. They haven't surpassed 35 points since. Arizona St. beat a dangerous but defensively inept Cal team, in addition to a down UCLA team. Other than that, it's been slim pickings in the Pac-12 for the Sun Devils.
ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins suffered a stinger and missed the last game and is questionable for this game. Freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole was thrust into action and threw two picks. He did throw for over 300 yards, however. Their big producer on offense in Kalen Ballage, a versatile running back who is also productive in the passing game. He even threw a TD pass in the last game, while also making an impact on special teams. He has 13 touchdowns on the season. Demario Richard is also a strong back, leading the team in rushing yards. The aerial attack is led by Tim White and his 47 receptions, with N'Keal Harry having hauled in four TD grabs. They neither stand out in the run, nor in the pass, and their 35.7 points per game average is loaded by games from the first month. It's not a very sparked ASU offense heading into week ten.
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Unfortunately, the prognosis doesn't get much better when discussing the defense. At nearly 400 yards per game, no team has given up more yards aerially this season than the ASU defense. It's really a disheartening situation to see such ineptitude in this part of the game. It's amazing they're only giving up 36.6 points per game. Granted, Utah is not a team that is very gifted through the air, but you don't have to be to sail by this group. And it's not really getting any better after giving up an offensive free-for-all to Oregon, which followed offensive beatings at the hands of Colorado and Washington State. What makes it all the more galling is that they actually have a pretty good pass-rush. It just hasn't made much of an impact.
ASU is 2-1 against conference teams this season at home, with wins over UCLA and Cal. The Utes, however, have shown some gumption on the road at 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-12. To paint this as a game between a top conference school and a low-end one might be true on paper, but it also could lead to us missing the point. Other than a week one win over an FCS school and a romp of San Jose State, Utah's wins have been relatively close. They're not really built to blow teams away, as they more resourcefully navigate their way to wins they are able to thoughtfully manufacture. I see them being able to get the cover this week at ASU.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Utah Utes minus 5.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Utah vs. Arizona State game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!