College Football Odds, Predictions, Picks: Prepare to Live Bet Southern Utah vs. Arizona State (September 2)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels.
- Jayden Daniels and the Arizona State Sun Devils open their season against the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah on Thursday night.
- Daniels should carry the Sun Devils this season, and the same should happen against a Thunderbird team coming off a huge loss last week.
- Check out Anthony Dabbundo's full betting guide with odds, picks, and predictions for the game.
College Football Week 1 Odds
Southern Utah vs. Arizona State
Year 4 of the Herm Edwards era at Arizona State kicks off on Thursday night as the Sun Devils host Southern Utah, an FCS foe from the Big Sky Conference.
SUU opened its season with a 45-14 loss to San Jose State and is a huge underdog in this matchup yet again.
ASU snuck into the AP Top 25 preseason poll at No. 25 and will be expected to win this game and all three of its nonconference games pretty easily.
The Sun Devils should have no issue gaining a big lead in the first half of this game and cruising to victory, but the Thunderbirds could keep it close enough to cover once ASU pulls away.
Southern Utah was one of the worst teams in the Big Sky last year, and it was projected to finish 11th in the preseason conference poll this season. Not only are the Thunderbirds an FCS program, but they’re not a good one and are facing one of the two dozen best teams in all of FBS.
Southern Utah was a pass-first offense last season but took more of a balanced approach in its first game with a near even mix of passing and running.
The Thunderbirds have very little firepower on the outside with no receiver totaling more than 32 yards against a stingy San Jose State defense last week.
SUU no longer has Landen Measom, its top receiver from last season. It’s difficult to see how the Thunderbirds will consistently move the ball against the ASU first team, but they should be able to find some success once the Sun Devils turn to their backups up 25+ points.
One reason for optimism with this offense is that it allowed just one sack against SJSU last week and protected quarterback Justin Miller pretty well, even though they had almost no rushing attack at all.
After allowing 38 points in the opening half to SJSU, there’s not much to like about the Thunderbirds’ defense.
Most importantly, it created almost no Havoc in that game. While the T-Birds did force two turnovers, including a pick six, they registered only two tackles for loss and zero sacks.
If they can’t create negative plays, it’s hard to imagine how they stop Arizona State from scoring at will in the first half.
All eyes are on Jayden Daniels for the Sun Devils this season, as his team has the fourth-best odds to win the Pac-12 and an over/under win total of 8.5 at DraftKings.
They’ve never won more than eight games under Edwards, but the returning Daniels is a longshot Heisman contender and will be the main storyline following ASU for most of the 2021 season.
Sun Devils Offense
While Daniels steals all of the headlines, the Sun Devils were a run-first offense in 2020. They averaged more than 200 rushing yards in 2020, one of 30 teams in FBS to do so.
Daniels was up and down — down early on — especially before steadily improving throughout the season.
He’ll need to make a leap if ASU is going to compete for a conference title, but he won’t have to do much on Thursday for the Sun Devils to score at will and tally easy yards and points on the ground.
Sun Devils Defense
ASU had a middling Pac-12 defense last season in terms of Success Rate and explosiveness allowed. While it ranked fourth in explosiveness allowed, it was middle-of-the-pack in Success Rate and third-best at Finishing Drives.
It will have to improve down the road at preventing opponents from moving the chains, but if it limits explosive plays, SUU will struggle to generate long drives on them.
Southern Utah vs. Arizona State Betting Pick
The only argument to get behind the underdog here is if it were a bad lookahead spot for Arizona State, a lot of players were out or Southern Utah had a way of exploiting the Sun Devils with something unique or different that ASU would have trouble preparing for.
Even though the Thunderbirds played a game already, it didn’t go well at all, and there’s no reason to expect Arizona State not to cruise.
But can they cover 45 points? I don’t feel comfortable laying 45 in almost any circumstance, especially one in which Arizona State has no real incentive to rack up a huge margin in the game.
Jeff Sagarin‘s margin of victory puts this around 41.83, and given that SUU showed some competitive fight at the end of a blowout loss last week, back the Thunderbirds after they concede the opening touchdown of the game early on.