College Football Odds & Betting Preview for Arizona State vs. BYU: Spread & Top Pick for Week 3 Matchup (September 18)
Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Rachaad White.
Week 3 College Football Odds
|Arizona State Odds|
-105o / -115u
-105o / -115u
BYU and Arizona State — two programs with polar-opposite cultures — will face each other for the first time since 1998 when an unranked Cougars team upset the No. 14 Sun Devils, 24-14.
The Cougars recently announced their future move to the Big 12, but they are more of a pseudo-Pac-12 member this season. This will mark their third straight meeting (of five total) with a Pac-12 team to open the season with a schedule that contains seven Power Five-conference teams.
This game did get a little more juice after BYU’s upset win over rival Utah last week. That victory got the Cougars into the AP Top 25, making this the first ranked meeting between these schools since 1974.
Can the Cougars back up the Holy War with another upset win over a Pac-12 team? Let’s dive in.
The Sun Devils got off to a 2-0 start, as expected, with easy wins over a pair of overmatched opponents in Southern Utah and UNLV.
You can’t take too much from either result other than it gave ASU a chance to get in reps and work out some kinks in live action. BYU will present the first real challenge of the 2021 season for a team that has aspirations to win the Pac-12.
This is a vintage Herm Edwards team, led by a stout defense and dynamite rushing attack.
Sun Devils Offense
Arizona State’s offense is led by third-year starting quarterback Jayden Daniels, who got every pass-catcher back from last season except Frank Darby, who went in the sixth-round of the NFL Draft.
That’s a pretty big loss one year after Daniels had both Darby and Brandon Aiyuk on the outside. Questions linger about Daniels’ accuracy and the effectiveness of the passing attack against better competition.
Conversely, nobody can question the ASU rushing attack. The two-headed monster of Rachaad White and DeaMonte Trayanum lead the way with Daniyel Ngata contributing, as well.
Throw in Daniels’ running ability, and this is one of the nation’s top rushing attacks behind an offensive line that returned four starters, led by preseason first-team All Pac-12 center Dohnovan West and second-team left tackle Kellen Diesch.
If Daniels can make progress in his reads and improve his accuracy as the season goes on, the sky’s the limit for this offense under second-year offensive coordinator Zak Hill, especially if one of the receivers emerges as a legit No. 1 receiver.
Keep an eye out on uber-talented freshman Elijhah Badger, who could make his debut this weekend.
Sun Devils Defense
For my money, Arizona State has one of the most underrated defenses in the country.
The Sun Devils will miss star defensive lineman Jermayne Lole, who is out indefinitely after undergoing triceps surgery in August. But there is enough talent and experience at every level to compensate for his absence.
- The defensive line is still full of upperclassmen, led by disruptive end Tyler Johnson.
- Three senior linebackers are led by Darien Butler and Merlin Robertson.
- A lockdown secondary is led by an outstanding super-senior duo on the outside in Chase Lucas and Jack Jones, along with stud senior safety Evan Fields.
Ten seniors and one junior make up the first-team defense. Lucas has made a ridiculous 44 consecutive starts at cornerback, while the corner on the other side, Jones, enters his third year as a starter and even started all 14 games for the Pac-12 Champion USC Trojans in 2017.
Defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce runs a base 4-3 that will shift into a 4-2-5 periodically with super-senior Timarcus Davis manning the slot.
Davis, who will return from injury this week, is a big addition to the defensive backfield. He filled in splendidly for Jones during his suspension last year. Without him, ASU had to use a freshman when they went with three corners.
BYU defeated a pair of Pac-12 opponents to open the season 2-0. The Cougars were expected to beat Arizona, but downing Utah as seven-point underdogs shocked many, especially considering the Utes had won nine-straight in the Holy War.
You have to give head coach Kalani Sitake a ton of credit for this start after losing quarterback Zach Wilson and having the lowest returning production of any team in the country at 35% with only two super seniors. That’s an even more shocking number when you compare it to other teams this season.
Not only did BYU lose quarterback Zach Wilson, who went second overall in the NFL draft to the New York Jets, it also saw four others get drafted, which is the most for BYU since 2002:
- Stud LT Brady Christensen (third round)
- DT Khyiris Tonga (seventh round)
- WR Dax Milne (seventh round)
- CB Chris Wilcox (seventh round)
Sitake stated coming into the year that he still loved his team due to the depth it had. And it appears he was right in doing so.
Darren Hall has been effective under center and Blake Freeland has looked flawless moving from right to left tackle. Hall, a dual-threat quarterback, ranks fifth nationally in QB rating, has yet to throw an interception and is averaging just under 10 yards per carry.
The offense also leans heavily on bruising back Tyler Allgeier, who ran for over 1,100 yards last year. He had 27 carries in the win over Utah. The offensive line has also looked very strong so far even with a brand new starting right side and Freeland sliding over to left tackle to replace a third-round draft pick.
Despite losing their top receiver from last year, Hall still has a bevy of weapons to target when dropping back, especially after bringing in two Pac-12 transfer brothers in Puka and Samson Nacua to pair with top possession receiver Neil Pau’u and playmaker Gunner Romney.
The BYU defense in recent years has often run a scheme that often only rushed three and dropped eight into zone coverages. However, it has been much more aggressive so far this year with the blitz while utilizing more four-man fronts and man coverage.
This group did lose seven of their top tacklers and will miss big Khyiris Tonga in the middle of a defensive line that lost every starter, but the linebacker corps is excellent.
Keenan Pili, who had 17 tackles against Arizona, is the run-stuffer on the inside while Max Tooley and the ultra-versatile Payton Wilgar man the outside.
Speaking of versatility, Chaz Ah You returned to the defense after missing last year due to injury. He’s a pure playmaking safety who BYU will line up in various positions.
The secondary is the unit I’d be most concerned about after all of the turnover. Outside of Ah You, there are three new starters, including two at cornerback. Isiah Herron has shined so far, but Arizona State has more skill-position talent than BYU’s first two opponents.
Arizona State vs. BYU Matchup Analysis
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Arizona State Offense vs. BYU Defense
BYU Offense vs. Arizona State Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Arizona State vs. BYU Betting Pick
I was able to grab Arizona State at -2.5 earlier in the week. Admittedly, I came into the year higher on the Sun Devils than almost everybody. That hasn’t changed since we really haven’t been able to get a read on ASU after playing two cupcake opponents.
BYU did get an obvious bump in my power ratings after its upset over Utah, but it still allowed the Utes to rush for 7.7 yards per carry. That’s a troubling sign against a much more explosive ASU rushing attack.
The Sun Devils also have more talent on the outside that can test this inexperienced BYU secondary. I really thought last week demonstrated how poor Utah is at wide receiver — one of the biggest questions coming into the season — rather than how great this BYU secondary is.
Can BYU avoid the post-Utah hangover? That was a huge victory for the program. The Cougars will at least have another raucous crowd to draw energy from. If they get out to a fast start, I think it will be time to jump in on Arizona State live if you missed getting the Sun Devils at a field goal or better.
ASU will also be playing its first road game of the season — and first in front of a hostile crowd in two years. For what it’s worth, the Sun Devils are just 6-8 under Edwards on the road.
Arizona State’s dominant rushing attack can take advantage of a raw BYU interior and should also hit a few deep shots once the Cougars start creeping in to help out in the run game. BYU’s linebackers will put up a fight, but I think the Sun Devils will ultimately prevail.
On the other side of the ball, ASU has enough playmakers on defense to get a few key stops to close out what should be a competitive game.
Would I still lay 4.5 with ASU? Probably not, but that’s the side I’d play if forced to. I thought Utah -7 was a fair price last week at BYU and I have ASU rated higher than the Utes. I’ve since adjusted BYU up, but still lean to ASU at -4.5.
But, every point matters especially with ASU under Herm; 19 of his 30 games coming into this season in Tempe were decided by a single possession. Plus, BYU has the much more reliable kicker in 2020 Lou Groza Award finalist Jake Oldroyd, while ASU doesn’t have much faith in its kicking situation right now, having missed three extra points in the first two games.