Stanford-Arizona State Bet to Watch: How Will Cardinal Attack Sun Devils’ 3-3-5 Defense?

Oct 18, 2018 7:22 AM EDT

Stanford-Arizona State Betting Odds, Pick

  • Odds: Stanford -2.5
  • Over/Under: 57
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

>> All odds as of 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.


Arizona State is just 3-3, but the Herm Edwards era is off to a pretty decent start.

All three of the Sun Devils’ losses have come on the road by exactly seven points. They have one of the best special teams units in the country and a dynamic quarterback-receiver duo in Manny Wilkins and N’Keal Harry.

Stanford’s College Football Playoff hopes unraveled before the Cardinal’s bye week with blowout losses to Notre Dame and Utah, but David Shaw’s team is still in the thick of the Pac-12 North race.

Bryce Love Questionable

For all the great rushing performances from Stanford running backs over the years, Bryce Love’s outing against Arizona State last season set a school record for yardage: 301 on 25 carries with three scores.

Love has been nursing an ankle injury all year, and is considered questionable for this game. Stanford’s rushing attack just hasn’t been the same with him hampered — the Cardinal are averaging 3.1 yards per carry, which is tied for 126th out of 130 FBS teams. Even when he’s played, he hasn’t been 100%.

Key Matchup: Stanford WRs vs. ASU Secondary

We’ve talked about it all year — Stanford makes its way down the field in big chunks, often relying on jump balls to its mammoth wide receivers. That’s not an efficient way to do things, which is why the Cardinal rank 107th in success rate but 10th in explosiveness.

But can Arizona State’s cornerbacks contain 6-foot-3 J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, 6-5 Kaden Smith and 6-2 Trenton Irwin? All three have at least 27 catches this season, and Arcega-Whiteside has eight touchdowns.

Arizona State is tied for 68th in the FBS at 7.2 yards per pass attempt allowed, but has one undersized corner in 5-10 Kobe Williams and ranks 110th in defensive back Havoc.

Look for Stanford to attack Williams with its monstrous pass catchers.

Bend Don’t Break

A few weeks ago, I wrote about why teams with bend but-don’t-break defenses tend to go under the total more often than not. Arizona State is a perfect example.

The Sun Devils rank first in the country in average starting field position on defense thanks to excellent punter Michael Sleep-Dalton. They rank 116th in success rate — how often an offense is on schedule to pick up a first down — but 10th in preventing big plays.

Essentially, ASU pins you deep, let’s you move the ball in chunks, but doesn’t give up big plays. The red-zone defense is decent, and that’s been enough to hold every opponent to 28 points or fewer this season.

How Will Stanford Attack the 3-3-5?

San Diego State coach Rocky Long has used the 3-3-5 forever — three linemen, three linebackers, five defensive backs. ASU defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales brought that system to Tempe this offseason after spending 20 years on Long’s staff.

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Credit:

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: KJ Costello

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