Bulldogs Will Rip The Spark Out Of Sun Devils In Las Vegas Bowl

Marcus McMaryion

Rainman M.

Saturday, December 8, 2018 3:01 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 3:01 PM UTC

Get the latest college football picks on the Las Vegas Bowl between Fresno State and Arizona State. The game from Las Vegas is on Saturday, December 15 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC. Bet confidently with tips from SBRpicks.com.

Las Vegas Bowl:Fresno State (11-2 SU, 9-4 ATS) vs Arizona State (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS)Saturday, Dec. 15, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)Sam Boyd Stadium, Las VegasFree NCAAF Pick: Bulldogs ATSBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Coach Jeff Tedford will try to lead Fresno State to its first 12-win season in program history. On the other side, Herm Edwards is looking to end his first season as Arizona State’s head coach by giving ASU its first bowl win since 2014.

How They Got Here

The Sun Devils started off 3-4 before beating four of their next five opponents including 15th-ranked Utah. They finished second in the Pac-12 South. Fresno State won the Mountain West Championship by upsetting Boise State in overtime and is ranked 21st nationally. Arizona State is 14-15-1 all-time in bowls, Fresno State 11-13.

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Why Fresno State Can Win/Cover

Arizona State’s defense will struggle to limit Fresno’s pass attack. Quarterback Marcus McMaryion has thrown for 3,400 yards and 25 touchdowns to three interceptions and he completes 69.8 percent of his passes. His top receiver is KeeSean Johnson, who has 93 catches and 1,300 yards. They’ll succeed against a Sun Devils secondary that ranks 80th in opposing passer rating. Overall, ASU’s defense has given up a combined 71 points in its last two games.

The Sun Devils’ pass attack will struggle to keep pace, especially without its top wide receiver, N’Keal Harry. Harry has 1,000 receiving yards and nine touchdowns and no other Sun Devil has even 500 receiving yards or more than three touchdowns. Fresno State’s defense ranks ninth in opposing passer rating and hasn't allowed more than 20 points since September 29.

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Why Arizona State Can Win/Cover

Although Fresno State’s run defense ranks 26th in opposing yards per carry, Arizona State’s rush attack is well-tested and still successful. Eno Benjamin has run for over 1,500 yards on 5.5 YPC and has run for over 100 yards in four of his past five games. For example, he ran for 175 against a Utah defense that ranks sixth in opposing YPC. He could succeed against the Bulldogs especially if their starting defensive tackle Jasad Haynes doesn’t play, without whom Fresno struggled to stop Boise’s rush attack. He’s listed as ‚questionable.‘ ASU has covered three of its last four when Benjamin ran for over 100 yards.

Common Opponent/Series History

The Bulldogs demolished UCLA 38-14. That game came early in the season, though, as the rebuilding Bruins were still winless. Their freshman quarterback was clearly not ready for college football yet. Later in the season, Arizona State beat UCLA by three, but failed to cover the spread. UCLA had a better quarterback in that game, Wilton Speight. But it’s telling that Speight achieved his highest passer rating and easily his highest yardage total against ASU.

The Sun Devils lost 28-21 as five-point favorites to San Diego State 28-21, which fielded two 100-yard rushers. Conversely, Fresno State beat San Diego State by nine, 23-14, but missed the spread by a point. The Bulldogs were content to dominate time of possession by continually grinding out first downs so that the Aztec offense mostly sat on the sidelines. The Aztecs averaged only 2.4 YPC.

The Verdict

N’Keal Harry is a big loss for Arizona State. During a stretch from October 27 to November 10, Arizona State scored between 31 and 38 points. During that same stretch, Harry had three of his five-highest receiving yardage totals—the other two came in the opener against a small school and against Oregon when the Ducks took their foot off the gas pedal. Harry is able to stretch the defense vertically and force extra defensive backs to account for him. The added attention to Harry also allows the run game to thrive. Benjamin has still succeeded without a good game from Harry. But the ASU offense scores a lot more points when both are clicking.

Arizona State’s secondary consistently allows opposing quarterbacks to achieve season-high performances—Speight and other struggling passers like Washington’s Jake Browning had great games. USC’s freshman Jack Sears achieved a 165 passer rating in his first ever taste of college football. Fresno’s McMaryion is well-tested. For example, he achieved a 164 passer rating against Wyoming’s 31st-best pass defense that gave Utah State quarterback sensation Jordan Love huge difficulties. FSU's edge in the passing game will be decisive for its cover.

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