The 2011 college football season rolls on with non-conference action this Friday night (10:30pm ET) with the 21st ranked Missouri Tigers (1-0) of the Big 12 in their first road test of the season, taking on the Arizona St. Sun Devils (1-0) of the Pac 12 in Tempe, AZ. The Tigers, led by Coach Gary Pinkel, struggled offensively in a 17-6 win over Miami of Ohio at home last week in their opener. The Sun Devils, led by well-traveled coach Dennis Erickson, demolished UC Davis 48-14 last week, but failed to cover the 37.5 point line.
Missouri features a defensive unit led by pre-season All-Big 12 end Brad Madison, who led the team with 7 ½ sacks last season, and end Jacques Smith who posted 5 ½ sacks a year ago. The Tigers posted 3 sacks in last weeks win over Miami (OH) and ranked first in the Big-12 and sixth in the country in scoring defense a season ago. Offensively the Tigers were disappoint against the Red Hawks last week, putting up only 291 yards of total offense with new QB James Franklin passing for only 129 yards in his first start, averaging a meager 5 yards per attempt. For ASU, the defense is led by All-American LB Vontaze Burfict, who had 3 sacks in the opener against UC Davis.
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Missouri vs. Arizona St. Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Missouri Tigers +7.5
@ Arizona St. Sun Devils -7.5
Over 52.5 (-110)
Under 52.5 (-110)
Missouri vs. Arizona St. Pick:
Arizona St. and QB Brock Osweiler will look to test a Missouri secondary that is breaking in three new starters, and if the Tigers are unable to muster the type of pass rush that they are known for he is certainly capable of picking apart their defense. The Tiger secondary faces their first real test of the season, and that will be the key to watch for when ASU has possession of the ball. On defense the Sun Devils are a much more formidable opponent than the Miami (OH) team that Mizzou faced last week. Burfict is one of the best pass rushers in college football, and had 3 sacks last week against UC Davis. Last week the Tigers were plagued by erratic snaps from C Jayson Palmgren, disrupting the rhythm of their spread offense. With an inexperienced QB and a pass-rushing force on the opposing defense, Mizzou cannot afford the same miscues this week. Mistakes and inexperience are a killer on the road, and this Mizzou team has yet to prove they can match the offensive output of Pinkel’s previous squads.
The under is 9-2 in Missouri’s last 11 non-conference games and 7-3 in their last 10 games in September. The tigers are 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games on grass. The under is 9-2 in ASU’s last 16 games on grass and 8-2 in their last 10 Friday games. The Sun Devils are 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 home games. The two teams have not met since September 30, 1990 when Missouri won 30-9 over ASU. The Tigers have won 22 straight non-conference games outright; their last loss was in September of 2005 to New Mexico at home.
Osweiler has not thrown an interception since November of 2009 (8 games), and his ability to take care of the football and avoid turnovers is a key to victory for the Sun Devils. The inept Missouri offense with the inexperienced Franklin under center, squaring off against a tough ASU defense on the road is recipe for a low-scoring day for a team that had trouble mustering much of an attack against a MAC opponent at home last week. ASU will likely not light up the scoreboard against a solid Mizzou defense either, and the under looks like the play to make in this game.