Arizona State The Top Choice For Cactus Bowl Pick Against West Virginia

Joe Gavazzi

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 5:55 PM GMT

Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015 5:55 PM GMT

Our college football handicapping professional takes an early look at the bowl game between West Virginia vs. Arizona State and offers his college football pick.

 

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College Football Pick: Arizona State +1
Best Line Offered: at Bet365

 

West Virginia vs. Arizona State
It’s a party in the desert as BIG 12 member WVU and Arizona St. meet on the baseball field of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Yes, the game is played on an MLB field in Phoenix, AZ, the hometown of Arizona St.  As the 40 Bowl games mercifully come to a close, this opinion favors PAC 12 rep Arizona St. against BIG 12 rep WVU. Combining for only 13 wins for the season, and with each sporting a 5-7 ATS mark, there appears to be little that separates these two teams. A closer look at the schedule tells us a bit more about these teams.

 

Betting Preview
Following a cupcake laced September, WVU started the year 3-0 SU, 2-0 ATS, outscoring Georgia Southern (without QB Ellison), Liberty, and Maryland by a combined 130-23. Then reality set in as the Mountaineers faced the best five teams in the BIG 12, and went 1-4 SU, 0-5 ATS, allowing 205 total points for an average of 51 PPG. To their credit, they closed 3-1 SU ATS beating Texas, Kansas, and Iowa St. before losing the finale 24-23 to a Kansas St. team who needed to win the contest for a Bowl bid. In the last three years under fifth year HC Holgerson, the Mounties have taken a collar in their Bowl games, going 0-3 SU ATS in losing to Syracuse 38-14, Iowa St. 52-44, and Texas A&M 45-37, all as favorite. QB Howard is less than explosive completing just 55% of his passes for a 21/12 ratio. But because of their dominance of lower tiered foes, and the running game behind Smallwood and Shell, WVU shows a profile of a 200 CLUB offensive team, and a defense that allows just 23/387.  Despite that positive statistical profile, it will be no surprise if they are dominated in this game.

Much like WVU, Arizona St played a rugged slate against the PAC 12. Losses came to USC, Utah, Oregon, Washington St., and California, as well as Texas A&M to open the season. Their defense does not look as strong as the Mounties as they allowed 33/446, but their blitzing tendencies under fourth year HC Graham were responsible for 44 sacks, and could well unnerve QB Howard. Arizona St. was a pass first team behind QB Bercovici, but managed to balance their offense with RBs Richard and Ballage, responsible for the bulk of the 185/4.4 YPR. 

 

Final Analysis
In a battle of middle rung major Conference teams, I give a notable advantage to Arizona St for this site, their blitzing ability to disrupt the Mounties’ offense, and the more explosive passing of QB Bercovici.

I invite you to put the college football odds in your favor and join me in my college football pick on Arizona State in the Cactus Bowl.

 

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