Huskies Feel the Heat vs. Sun Devils

Arizona State Sun Devils mascot in field

Rainman M.

Friday, October 13, 2017 3:37 PM GMT

Friday, Oct. 13, 2017 3:37 PM GMT

#5 Washington (6-0) plays at Arizona State (2-3) this Saturday at 10:45 PM ET. The Huskies opened as 18.5 point favorites, but that number has dropped to 17.5, despite public action in Washington.

Washington Huskies vs Arizona State Sun Devils  

All 6 of the teams demolished by Washington have passing attacks ranked outside the top 50, in terms of passing yards per game. Arizona State's passing attack, which ranks 26th, will test Washington's defense.

Quarterback Manny Wilkins had averaged over 300 yards per game with 8 touchdowns before last week's off day at Stanford, where he threw his first two interceptions on the season.

Wilkins is at his best at home, where he excelled against San Diego State's top-ranked pass defense and helped upset then-ranked Oregon. His passer rating this season is 139.2 on the road, compared to 163.5 at home, a trend that is consistent throughout his career.

Wilkins is a dual-threat quarterback whose quick feet enable him to maintain a good pocket presence. He ably keeps his eyes down the field and can drive a vertical passing attack. Outside of the pocket, he is a strong runner in the open field.

The Huskies' defensive line feeds off the energy of its home crowd. On the road this season, they have produced 6 sacks in 3 games, which would place their pass attack outside the top 50 overall.

If protection does become an issue, the Devils' passing attack is prepared to expose the weakness of the Huskies' untested secondary. For example, wide receiver N'Keal Harry's route-running ability includes the use of fakes and other subtle movements in order to quickly create separation from the secondary. The quick pass to Harry, combined with his ability to run after the catch, can be effective against the Huskies' secondary.

The injury of Byron Murphy, who had led the Huskies in passes defended, makes the Huskies' attempt to replace significant departures in the secondary that much harder. The Devils' passing game can expose an inexperienced and unproven Washington secondary.

Another crucial match-up will be Arizona State's push rush against Washington's offensive line.

Washington is ranked 30th in sacks allowed, but against anemic pass rushes. Arizona State, also in terms of pass rush, presents a new beast to a protection unit that has openly received the label "soft." The Devils rank 33rd in sack percentage, despite facing more difficult competition.

One of the Devils' leading pass rushers is JoJo Wicker, who achieved 2 sacks against a respectably ranked Texas Tech protection unit. 

The Devils also boast a high-quality, veteran linebacking corps with which to contain Washington's rush attack.  

Arizona State's run defense statistics are abysmal because the best rush attacks shredded them--San Diego State and Stanford. Washington's poor run-blocking limits its rush attack. Myles Gaskin's one strong game this year came against a rebuilding Colorado 3-4 defense with a depleted defensive line and a linebacking corps that lacks size and physicality. 

Arizona State's 4-3 defense effectively utilizes the abilities of its best defenders, whose physicality will be decisive in keeping Washington one-dimensional and susceptible to the Devils' pass rush. Arizona State's best pass defense will be its pass rush.

 

The Verdict

An overview of Washington's statistical achievements leads one to overrate their abilities because of the weak competition which they have faced, while a more battle-tested Arizona State can surprise many by winning defensively the battle against the Huskies' offensive line and offensively by exposing Washington's pass defense.

Offensively speaking, the Huskies have started slowly in each of their 3 road games thus far and have failed to cover the first half number. The Devils will come out firing in their upset bid and are worth placing a 1H ML bet on.  The difficulty of playing in Tempe, Arizona is underrated by oddsmakers, as the Devils are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 at home. Also, oddsmakers constantly overrate the Huskies in this match-up, in which the Devils have covered 11 in a row on our NCAAF Picks.

 

Free NCAAF Pick: Arizona State +10 1H & +17.5 FG Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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