College Football Picks Against The Spread - California vs Arizona State

Arizona State Sun Devils Player Runs With Ball

Friday, September 23, 2016 7:34 PM GMT

Cal and Arizona State, two of the highest-scoring offenses to begin the season, square off in the conference opener for each Saturday night. Need a pick? We got you covered. 

California Golden Bears (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS)
Cal's 50-43 victory over Texas as a touchdown underdog last weekend is its biggest upset win since defeating Northwestern (31-24) as a 10-point pup back in 2014. The Golden Bears hope to capitalize off the momentum against a program they've had good success against recently. Since 2002, Cal is 9-2 SU and 7-4 ATS versus the Sun Devils, winning in four of its last five trips to Tempe.

Cal's 580.4 yards per game ranks fifth in the FBS. Head coach Sonny Dykes runs an Air Raid offense with 64.7 percent of his play calls of the passing variety (third nationally). Senior Davis Webb is the new man under center after Jared Goff was drafted first overall in the this year's NFL draft. Davis has thrown for 1,359 yards 13 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions on 106 of 166 passes.

Defensively, Cal needs work. The line is undersized and its run stopping horrid. Teams average 6.54 yards per carry against, one of the highest rates against any unit in the country. Through three games, it's yielding 296.3 rushing yards per game.

Arizona State Sun Devils (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS)
Despite a pedestrian 6-6 regular-season record in 2015, Arizona State continued to take care of business at Sun Devil Stadium. It is 19-4 SU (13-10 ATS) in its last 24 played in Tempe. Each of its four losses occurred against Pac-12 opponents (11-4 SU), however.

Arizona State's 50.0 points and 560.5 yard per game each rank sixth in the nation; remarkable for a unit with a new quarterback (Manny Wilkins), new offensive coordinator (Chip Lindsey) and four new offensive linemen. Wilkins is 63-of-95 with 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and 795 yards passing.

Like Cal, the Sun Devils have some holes on defense, most notably its secondary. The unit is allowing 384.5 passing yards against per game. Only Pitt yields more (436.0). Texas Tech, which also runs an Air Raid offense, put up 55 points on 540 passing yards last Saturday. The defensive backfield is in for another workout.

Final Analysis
This one is predicted to be a barn burner with a game total listed at 83 points at some sportsbooks on Thursday. Combined, the two programs average 97 points per game to begin the season.

Arizona State's rushing attack will be the difference-maker in this one. The best way to slow down Cal's relentless passing attack is to keep it off the field. It worked against Texas Tech (68-55) last weekend, and the Big 12 team is arguably better then the Golden Bears at stopping the run. Head coach Todd Graham has called the rush 50.5 times per game (11th in FBS), averaging 253 yards.

When Cal kicks off against a conference foe rushing for more than 185 yards per game under Dykes, it is 0-13 SU and 5-8 ATS. The high-flying offense has stayed under its projected team total in nine of the contests.

The Sun Devils enter 6-1 ATS in their last seven played. Dykes is pretty good at making adjustments at the half as evident in the Texas win. We'll play the Sun Devils in the first half on the point spread at -2.5 for our free college football pick.

Remember to drop by SBR's list of the best-ranked bonuses, and find out which of the top sportsbooks is offering the top rated sportsbooks.

SBR Record YTD: 119-85-6 (-103 avg. odds); College Football YTD: 9-14 (-108 avg. odds)

Free College Football Pick: Arizona State -2.5 (1st Half)
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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