The Stanford Cardinal roll into the desert for a Thursday night battle with the Arizona State Sun Devils. Stanford have lost two games in a row, a 38-17 decision to Notre Dame and they followed it up by getting smacked against Utah last week, 40-21. Losing to Utah isn’t a bad loss, but getting trounced, 40-21, at home is pretty ugly. Utah are the most underrated team in the Pac-12, so losing to them alone isn’t anything surprising.
However, the way in which the Cardinal got punched in the mouth at Palo Alto had to be unnerving for David Shaw and company. Stanford went from 4-0 to 4-2 real quick. They were coming off a crazy win over Oregon in overtime, 38-31, in Eugene and haven’t been able to get back into a groove since. Stanford had no business winning that game, but Oregon seemingly handed it to the Cardinal with their inability to manage the clock. It was a good game in any event.
Stanford will be looking to avoid three straight losses in Tempe on Thursday night. Herm Edwards has done a well enough job in his first-year as the head coach at Arizona State. Following the departure of Todd Graham, the hiring of Edwards left some scratching their heads wondering if he still could direct a sideline. It’s too early to say, but they’ve been looking pretty decent thus far. The Sun Devils have a record of 3-3 and played Washington pretty hard on the road. So, I would say that the verdict is still out on Edwards.
Bryce Love hasn’t looked the same as the guy who could have won the Heisman a season ago. He fought through injuries last year and made the most of it with an impressive season. Love missed last week against Utah. Backup Trevor Speights looked okay with 56 yards on 17 carries. Love has been waiting for a game to go wild in and we’ll see if it comes on Thursday night, if he starts. He’s currently listed as questionable to play. The Stanford offense has centered around quarterback KJ Costello and wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside with Love banged up. Head below for our free Stanford vs. Arizona State pick.
Stanford Cardinal vs. Arizona State Sun Devils NCAAF Betting Odds:
Stanford -2.5 (-115)
vs. Arizona State +2.5(-105)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Stanford vs. Arizona State Pick:
Bryce Love has averaged 4.3 yards per carry thus far this season. He set a career-high with 8.1 yards a carry last season, so this is certainly a drop off, and the lowest of his four years in college. The Sun Devils are a more aggressive team that they’ve been in the past. They aren’t a paper-thin defense, but does that mean they are at the point of being good?
No, they just aren’t one of the worst defenses in the country. Notably, their pass defense was giving nearly 400 yards per game just a couple of years ago. The Sun Devils are 62nd against the pass now, with 222.7 yards allowed per game. In what will have to be strong with Love in the lineup, their rushing defense has given up 162.3 yards per game for 70th in the nation.
Defensively they are turning a corner, but clearly aren’t there yet. Look for Edwards to attack the recruiting circuit hard with defense in mind. He’s an old school coach who ultimately wants to mimic a physical Pac-12 team like Washington. Edwards and the defense will have to worry about Love and the passing game.
They are not as one-dimensional as we’ve seen in the past. If only they could get Love going and there’d be something to get excited about. Costello has thrown 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. His best outing was a 3-touchdown performance against Oregon, but he was neutralized against really good Notre Dame and Utah defenses. The Sun Devils will not pose as much of a threat on defense as they did. Arcega-Whiteside has already hauled in 8 touchdowns and 541 yards from Costello.
Arizona State are coming off a 28-21 loss to the Colorado Buffaloes on the road. They are coming off a bye, so they’ve had some time to fix some things. Manny Wilkins has led a balanced attack through the air and ground. He’s improved under Herm Edwards, especially limiting his mistakes. Wilkins has only 1 interception to go with 11 touchdowns. Eno Benjamin is averaging 5.7 yards as their leading runner. Note that one of Stanford’s best defensive players, linebacker Casey Toohill, will be back after missing three games.
They are still looking for a marquee win, though. Some might consider Michigan State marquee, but the Sun Devils caught them sleeping out west and despite beating Penn State, the Spartans lost to Northwestern and were nearly upset by Utah State. Arizona State have losses against San Diego State, Washington, and Colorado. After tonight I think you can add Stanford to that list.
Although Arizona State are coming off a bye, they have to come back to a Stanford team who have looked awful the last two weeks. Against a much weaker defense, look for the Cardinal to move the ball much more effectively. Arizona State might be ready to deliver blows in a year or two against Stanford, but I don’t believe it comes on Thursday night.