Northern Arizona vs. Arizona State Odds, Picks: Betting Value on Thursday’s Over/Under
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Herm Edwards (arizona state)
- The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks take on the Arizona State Sun Devils in Thursday night college football action.
- Arizona State enters as a relatively large favorite, but we see betting value on the over/under.
- Check out Thomas Schlarp's best bet for Northern Arizona vs. Arizona State below.
Northern Arizona vs. Arizona State Odds
|Northern Arizona Odds|
-115o / -105u
|Arizona State Odds|
-115o / -105u
The 2022 college football season could not have arrived soon enough for Herm Edwards and Co. — or at least what remains of that company — following a disaster of an offseason ripe with NCAA recruiting violations, assistant coach firings and resignations, and a litany of player departures.
The Sun Devils have their first chance to right the ship and silence the cacophony of outside naysayers with a game at home against Northern Arizona, a member of the Big Sky Conference in the FCS.
Will Thursday night's game serve as a stepping stone in the right direction in Edwards' fifth season since taking over the program in Tempe, or will it serve as the beginning of the end of the former NFL head coach's tumultuous tenure?
Northern Arizona may serve as this story's David — a middle-of-the-pack FCS program that is just 2-6 ATS versus Pac-12 teams in its last eight matchups — but the Lumberjacks don't have to look back far to remember the last time they beat a Pac-12 Goliath in the state of Arizona.
In September of 2021, Northern Arizona knocked off Arizona, 21-19, as 24.5-point underdogs.
To be fair, the Wildcats weren't up to par with this year's Sun Devils, but the Lumberjacks won't be lacking in confidence.
A key part of that victory was quarterback RJ Martinez, the reigning Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year. Martinez is a dual-threat QB who completed 61.4% of his passes for 1,714 yards in seven starts with an impressive 14:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
But the real bread-and-butter of this NAU offense is with running back Kevin Daniels. The sophomore rushed for 1,146 yards last season on 6.2 yards a carry and twice eclipsed the 200-yard mark. Against Cal Poly, he broke free for 280 yards and five scores.
Defensively, the Lumberjacks' secondary was easily chopped apart by opponents, as no team in the Big Sky was worse than NAU's 277.2 yards allowed through the air per game.
The good news is Arizona State will predominantly feature a pro-style offense, but just one full-time starter from 2021 returns to NAU's defensive line.
The only place with more change than a piggy bank is Tempe, Arizona, as the Sun Devils' roster and coaching staff underwent a massive overhaul in the wake of an NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting violations.
In total, five assistant coaches were fired or resigned and 17 players entered the transfer portal. Four players were drafted into the NFL, and four more signed as undrafted free agents.
But what the transfer portal taketh, it also gives in the form of more than a dozen transfers — most notably former Florida quarterback Emory Jones who replaces newly-minted LSU QB Jayden Daniels.
Jones struggled with turnovers last year for the Gators (13 interceptions), but he presents the same type of dual-threat headache for opposing defensive coordinators. He averaged 58 yards a game on the ground in 2021.
Jones, who passed for more than 2,700 yards last season, won't be working with the same type of weapons he had at Florida. Arizona State returns just 19.8% of its receiving output from 2021 and must replace all three of its top-three pass catchers.
New OC Glen Thomas is expected to slow things down for the Sun Devils, including huddling more often and increasing the emphasis on the run.
Arizona State welcomes Wyoming transfer Xazavian Valladay to take over for Rachaad White at the running back position. Per Pro Football Focus, 68.9% of Valladay's 1,063 rushing yards last season came after contact, the eighth-highest rate among qualified FBS rushers.
The defensive side of the ball is more of the same. Six of Arizona State's top eight tacklers are no longer with the team.
The secondary serves as the biggest liability where the Sun Devils must replace four starters from 2021.
But fortunately against a run-heavy NAU team, the strength of this Arizona State team is its front seven, which now includes Miami transfer and NFL prospect, Nesta Jade Silvera, at the nose tackle position.
Northern Arizona vs. Arizona State Betting Pick
It's put-up-or-shut-up time for Edwards and Arizona State.
In a vacuum, the Sun Devils have no business breaking a sweat against Northern Arizona, but could all of the turmoil even the playing field?
I doubt it, but 25.5 points is a big number, especially for a team that could be starting 10 transfers on Day 1.
Instead, the smarter play is to think about game script.
To avoid a blowout, the Lumberjacks are going to try to control the ball as much as possible. They'll lean into their strength and run the ball early and often.
Arizona State is switching to a more pro-style offense, and the coaching staff has expressed an interest in slowing things down to hopefully avoid the pre-snap penalties that plagued the program in 2021.
The Sun Devils also have an important measuring-stick game against a ranked Oklahoma State team in Stillwater next week, so the starters will likely be pulled early and a vanilla playbook will be used.
And did I mention it's going to be 101 degrees at kick?
The Sun Devils will coast to an easy win, but there will be too much rushing in this game and Arizona State not running full throttle to eclipse the total.