#17 Arizona State Sun Devils (5-1 Overall, 2-1 Pac-12) vs. #13 Utah Utes (5-1 Overall, 2-1 Pac-12)
Saturday, October 19, 2019 @ 6 PM EST
Rice-Eccles Stadium (Salt Lake City, UT)
Moneyline: ASU (+450), Utah (-600)
Spread: ASU +13.5 (-115), Utah -13.5 (-105)
Total: O/U 46.5 (-110)
Both of these defenses have been very, very good against the run this year, as Utah has yet to allow 100 yards on the ground and Arizona State has only allowed 3 yards per rush. But, I have to give Utah’s defense the edge in this game, as I have more faith in their ability to slow down the Sun Devils’ rushing attack (156 yards per game and 7 touchdowns in their last 3 games) than I do in Arizona State’s ability to slow down Utah’s explosive, balanced offense (467.3 yards and 34.8 points per game this season).
With the exception of their 30-23 loss to USC, Utah’s defense has been outstanding in all aspects, allowing the 10th-fewest yards (271.5) and the 8th-fewest points (13.2) in the country. They’ve been especially impressive in the run game, where they rank 2nd in the country, allowing just under 53 yards per game. The Utes have a slight edge in scoring defense (Utah: 13.2 PPG, ASU: 17.7 PPG), but the real difference comes in the passing game, as Utah has only allowed 6 passing touchdowns (24th in FBS) and 218.7 passing yards (65th in FBS) and Arizona State has allowed 262.8 passing yards (103rd in FBS) and 9 passing touchdowns (58th in FBS).
Utah Utes (5-1 Overall, 2-1 in Pac-12 South)
The Sun Devils secondary will be facing their toughest test yet, as Utah QB Tyler Huntley, who had his season ended at ASU last year with a broken collarbone, has been outstanding so far. Huntley has been incredibly efficient this year, completing 75.6% of his passes (3rd in FBS) for 1,393 yards, 9 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He’s also added 3 touchdowns on the ground.
On defense, the Utes are coming off of two straight impressive performances. Two weeks ago, they held a juggernaut Washington State offense to a season-low in passing yards (252), total yards (313) and points (13). Washington State had averaged 500 PASSING YARDS AND 53 POINTS PER GAME in the 4 weeks prior. Last week, they held an Oregon State offense that was averaging almost 7 yards per play, over 475 yards per game and 37 points per game to just 217 yards and 7 points. Utah’s defense should keep Arizona State’s offense in check.
Arizona State Sun Devils (5-1 Overall, 2-1 in Pac-12 South)
Arizona State’s offense hasn’t been as impressive as you’d think, and I think Utah will expose that this week. However, the area that the Sun Devils really thrive off of is their lack of turnovers and penalties. They’ve committed the fewest penalties in the Pac-12 and have turned the ball over just 4 times this season.
Freshman QB Jayden Daniels has been impressive so far, completing 63% of his passes for 1,610 yards, 8 touchdowns and just 1 interception. He did struggle quite a bit on the road against California and Michigan State, who are some of the higher-rated defenses in the country. So, I think it’s safe to be a little concerned heading into a road game against another top defense in the country in Utah. The Sun Devils will obviously hope to get RB Eno Benjamin going early to try and take some pressure off of the young quarterback, but with Utah’s stingy run defense, I’m not sure how much Benjamin will be able to open things up.
The Sun Devils’ pass defense will face its toughest test yet and I don’t like what I’ve seen from them in the past few weeks. In a Week 4 loss to Colorado (34-31), they allowed Buffaloes QB Steven Montez to complete almost 77% of his passes for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns, and they allowed Washington State QB Anthony Gordon to complete 69% of his passes for 466 yards and 3 touchdowns. Having said that, Anthony Gordon is one of the most explosive quarterbacks in the country and the Sun Devils held him to his 2nd-lowest Quarterback Rating on the season. Can you guess who fared better? That’s right. The Utah Utes defense.
Overall, I think Utah’s offensive balance and stingy run defense will be the difference in this game, as the Sun Devils offense has looked pedestrian against the two solid defenses they faced this year (California and Michigan State). I would take the Utes to cover this week, but there’s a chance Arizona State’s offense will do just enough to keep this close.