Arizona State +7 3.3% play
We have a unique situation with a coach being fired and sticking around for the bowl game to coach while the new coach is out recruiting. Originally I thought that might be a nightmare of a situation, but the more I am reading the more I am understanding that Todd Graham is respected around this program. He has recruited all of these players who are a tight nit group and want to send their coach out with a win. I think it also helps that Graham has not had to worry about recruiting the last few weeks like most of these bowl coaches.
This game is being played in Texas and typically the PAC12 enjoys a big crowd edge against the ACC. They have dominated the ACC since 2010 going 18-2 which really surprises me. As many of you know I have been high on the ACC even calling them the best conference dating back to last year. I don't think they are the best this year, and I think there are some opportunities to fade teams out of the ACC in this bowl season.
Looking at what these two teams bring to the table you have to like Arizona State as over a TD under dog. They have faced the better schedule and even have gone 5-2-1 ATS as a dog with 4 outright upsets this year. They beat teams like Oregon, Washington, Utah and Arizona while NC State beat Louisville, BC And Marshall not much to show for an 8-4 season that could have been much better. Todd Graham has also been good in bowl games.
In terms of the match-up we have Arizona State's #29 passing attack facing the #43 passing defense, but they are without Bradley Chubb seen working on speed drills in practice while the rest of the team took their normal reps. As I expect he is now listed as doubtful for this game. Chubb is a monster and a one man wrecking crew, but they'll be without him and that is bad news for NC State's defense whose weakness is the green secondary. Ranking #43 is great, but they faced many teams without a pulse at QB. An average opponent ranking #73. Arizona State's offense did that against some very good defenses as well ranking on average 58.9. Just in their wins they have proven they could beat good defenses, Oregon, Washington, Utah to name a few. I look for receiver N'Keal Harry & Kyle Williams to have a big days.
NC State, I have bet on a few times this year and I think like many folks we had higher hopes for them. They have a ton of talent, but they just beat themselves. THey are one of the worst special teams units in the country at #104 while Arizona State is #32. Their FG kicker is 9-19 on field goals and Arizona State's red zone offense and defense have an edge here. You'd also expect Arizona State to have some turnovers, but they have lost only 11 all season which is the lowest since Graham has been here. I was tempted to take this game on the money line, but NC State does have talent here with Finley at QB and Hines & Samuels. I can see a field goal game going either way.
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