Out of all the matchups today on the college football card, I feel like this one has to be the most intriguing. Both teams are expecting to move up the polls to have a chance at the playoff. It is definitely an outside shot, especially for Texas A&M, but crazier things have happened before. Arizona State is a great team, but they are playing in the dangerous Pac 12, and also have a tough game on the road to start the season here tonight. ASU was flirting with a spot in the playoff last season, but ended up short. A loss to Oregon State late in the season essentially solidified their fate. A later loss to rival Arizona was pretty well the final blow to their season. After dropping two games on the season, their game against Arizona was pretty much their bowl game. If you’re not going to be in the playoff, might as well beat your rival, right? It was a competitive game, but ASU lost by a score of 42-35. As a consolation the Sun Devils went to the Sun Bowl, defeating Duke, 36-31. Todd Graham should have another good team this season, including the offense which should put up points with ease again.
For the Aggies, the Johnny Manziel is long over on campus and the show is run by Kyle Allen now. Allen will be entering his sophomore campaign for Texas A&M after a fairly solid freshman year. He didn’t do enough to make anyone forget about Manziel, but he showed some promise for the Aggies. I felt after they beat Arkansas 35-28 in overtime, coming back to do so, it was going to set them on fire for the rest of the reason. It in fact had the opposite effect, as they went on to lose five of their next eight games, ruining their season after they were so much hope after knocking the Razorbacks off. Allen should be more comfortable in the offense this season. However, can anything productive really get done for Texas A&M with their defense? They’ll get their first test of the season against a pretty well-oiled machine on offense tonight. Read below to find one of my picks for the first Saturday of the college football season.
Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Texas A&M Aggies CFB Pick
Arizona State +3.5(-110)
@Texas A&M -3.5(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Arizona State vs. Texas A&M Pick:
I do think the A&M offense is going to get better from last season. All reports indicate that quarterback Kyle Allen has matured significantly and has looked good in camp. Not all QBs jump into it in their freshman season and light the world on fire, ala Johnny Manziel, but Allen looked good enough last season that it is very possible he is in store for a big 2015. My issues aren’t with the offense, but the defense hasn’t been able to get on course under the Kevin Sumlin era. Get into a shootout and outscore the other team really is their best chance of being successful.
I don’t foresee their defense making a drastic jump. At least not against a potent offense like the Sun Devils. With starter Taylor Kelly on the way out, the show at quarterback is all Mike Bercovici now. Bercovici looked great when Kelly was out for a few weeks last year, even leading them to a huge come from behind win against USC. This isn’t a guy jumping in with no experience, he has proven he can run this offense with excellent results.
The Sun Devils had to get into shootouts as well last season. They have a defense that can rush the quarterback superbly. ASU blitzed more than any team in college football last season. However, with a year to watch their film, I suspect offensive coordinators aren’t going to play into their blitz schemes. For the Aggies, I believe Arizona State blitzing plays right into the offense. A&M loves to run screens and utilize short passes. Screens work best against blitzes, that is no secret. I see this as a game where the first team to 40 wins the game. The spread is a tough pick for me, but I do like points in this one, result in more than 70 points scored in total.
PICK: OVER 70 POINTS (-110)