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College Football Odds & Pick For California vs. Arizona State: Bet Sun Devils in High-Scoring Pac-12 Battle

College Football Odds & Pick For California vs. Arizona State: Bet Sun Devils in High-Scoring Pac-12 Battle article feature image

Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels.

Editor’s Note: As of Friday, Nov. 13 around noon ET, the following California vs. Arizona State game has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns within the Sun Devils program. The following analysis remains largely unadulterated in order to best serve your long-term betting needs.

California vs. Arizona State State Odds

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California hits the road this week for Saturday’s Pac-12 game against Arizona State.

This will be the 36th meeting between the two programs, with Cal leading the series by a slim 18-17 margin. The last five meetings have been competitive, with all games being decided by 10 points or less.

For Cal, this will be its season opener after its game last Saturday was canceled. The Golden Bears did not have the requisite number of scholarship athletes available due to COVID-19 contact tracing and subsequent isolation.

On the other side, Arizona State suffered a tough 28-27 loss to USC in its season opener last weekend.

Cal finished last season with an 8-5 record, which earned it a second-place finish in the Pac-12 North. The Golden Bears went on to defeat Illinois in the Redbox Bowl.

Cal starts the season under fourth-year head coach Justin Wilcox, with the offense returning every starter from last season’s bowl win. Former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave takes over play-calling duties. Defensively, Cal lost All-American linebacker Evan Weaver, who took his skills to the NFL and now plays for the Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona State looks to regroup after giving up 14 points in the last three minutes of its loss to USC. The Sun Devils were very effective running the ball in that defeat, though.

Sophomore quarterback Jayden Daniels and running backs DeaMonte Trayanum and Rachaad White combined 271 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Daniels also threw for 134 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, the Sun Devils forced four turnovers and three turnovers on downs.

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California Golden Bears

The Golden Bears look to improve from last season, with redshirt junior quarterback Chase Garbers under center for the third season. Garbers led a Cal offense that averaged 21.2 points per game in 2019, completing 60.9% of his passes (down from 2018) that led to 14 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Junior running back Christopher Brown Jr. will be joined in the backfield by Wisconsin graduate transfer Bradrick Shaw. Last year, the Bears rushed for 1,710 yards, averaging 3.6 yards per attempt that led to 16 touchdowns. The bottom line is the Golden Bears need to leverage their backfield and veteran offensive line to help Garbers find more success.

The Cal defense is missing a few key pieces from last season but maintains the experienced leadership necessary to start the season strong. The Bears were particularly effective against the run last year, with a defensive rushing PPA (predicted points added) per play of 0.06 in the last six games of the season, according to College Football Data. This was third-best in the Pac-12 and much better than the 0.13 conference average.

The Bears will have to be stout against the run Saturday to combat the explosive Arizona State ground game. Cal’s defensive line appears to be missing the trip to Tempe because of COVID-19, which could have a big impact on the game’s outcome.

Arizona State Sun Devils

The Sun Devils’ offense showed a lot of promise last week, scoring 27 points against USC and covering the 11-point spread. They are ranked 73rd in FBS in total offense after gaining 392 yards.

Arizona State will look for Daniels to contribute more with his arm this week after displaying his rushing prowess last week. Herm Edwards’ team has an offensive PPA per play of 0.19, which is in line with the FBS average. The Sun Devils need to be better against the Golden Bears’ defensive line after allowing front-seven Havoc of 0.20, which is double the FBS average of 0.10.

The Sun Devils’ defense looked great through three quarters last weekend, only allowing 14 points. However, things drastically changed in the fourth quarter when Arizona State gave up 14 quick points that contributed to the heartbreaking one-point loss. The Sun Devils allowed a defensive PPA per play of 0.13, which is below the FBS average of 0.18.

After forcing four turnovers, the Sun Devils generated defensive Havoc of 0.22, above the FBS average of 0.17. The defense was able to bring the noise against USC, which was almost enough for the win.

That said, look for Edwards and the Sun Devils to correct the mistakes from last weekend in their search for a victory.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Arizona State is looking to get past that shattering late fourth-quarter loss. The Sun Devils had the nerve to hang with one of the best teams in the Pac-12, looking solid on both sides of the ball at times. They will look to work the ground game again against an uncertain Cal defensive line.

In contrast, Cal enters this game with a desire to improve upon its bland offense. The Golden Bears have the personnel and experience to make the improvements, especially with Musgrave now calling the plays. The defense needs to replace key pieces and hasn’t truly hit in 321 days.

Arizona State is going to have to shed the rust, but I expect a slow start from the Cal defense.

With that said, I’m backing the total going over the number up to 49 points and backing the Sun Devils to bounce back. Look at live odds for even better value.

Picks: Arizona State -2.5 or better live | Total Over 47.5 points (up to 49)

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