ASU Stays Near Home For Cactus Bowl vs. West Virginia

  • Updated: January 1, 2016
  • football betting

    By Charles Jay

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    The West Virginia Mountaineers are a team that is no stranger to facing opponents with explosive offenses; after all, they reside in the Big 12. So they like to think that anything the Arizona State Sun Devils throw at them won’t be all that much of a shocker. These schools will meet up in the Cactus Bowl, scheduled for Saturday evening at 10:15 PM ET at Chase Field in Phoenix, which is normally home to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Even after the opening kickoff, Chinese Bookie customers will have the opportunity to challenge the college football betting odds in real-time, while the game is in progress, using the facilities made available through Live Betting Extra.

    Cactus Bowl – Arizona State vs West Virginia – College Football BETTING LINE:

    In the college football betting odds posted on this game by the people at Chinese Bookie , the “home” team is the slight favorite:

    Arizona State Sun Devils -1.5
    West Virginia Mountaineers +1.5
    Over 64 points -110
    Under 64 points -110

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    Arizona State had high expectations this season, but did not meet them. The Sun Devils lost their opener by three touchdowns to Texas A&M, then a 42-14 decision to USC three weeks later, and never really got their footing. They finished 6-6 straight-up and 5-7 against the football pointspread. The “soft” part of West Virginia’s schedule did not take place until the tail end of the campaign. So they did finish with four victories in their last five games, bringing their ledger to 7-5 straight-up and also 5-7 ATS.

    It should be noted that Arizona State will be “staying at home,” so to speak, as they are located in nearby Tempe, but football is not normally played at this venue.

    If you want to talk about a “Murderers Row” of opponents, that’s what West Virginia faced in the early part of its Big 12 schedule, as they had to go up against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU, all in succession. In those four games, they allowed a combined 179 points. However, they did take Oklahoma State into overtime before losing by a touchdown. Later, they scored victories over Texas Tech, Texas, Kansas and Iowa State, before losing the regular-season finale 24-23 to Kansas State. As far as Big 12 standards go, this was not a bad defense, as they racked up 31 takeaways, holding opponents to just 51% completions and four yards per carry.

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    Interestingly enough, although WVU coach Dana Holgorsen in is generally known as a guy who likes to employ wide-open offenses, and has done so before, going back to his days as an offensive coordinator, his team did, on balance, a much better job on the ground that it did through the air. Skyler Howard, the starting quarterback, did not even complete 55% of his passes, but the two leading rushers – Wendell Smallwood and Rushel Shell – had more than 2100 yards between them.

    Chinese Bookie customers did not look for a lot of defense out of Arizona State this season. And they didn’t get it either. The season finale against California was particularly wild, as they lost 48-46 and gave up 680 yards – 542 of them through the air. Of course, ASU could move the ball as well; they had 742 yards against Oregon, albeit in a 61-55 loss, and they also scored a 38-23 upset over UCLA in the Rose Bowl Stadium. Of course, it was very important to head coach Todd Graham to win the annual rivalry game against Arizona, and they did just that, with 565 offensive yards in a 52-37 winregistering eight sacks.

    Graham loves the blitz, and his team compiled 44 sacks on the season to lead the nation (kind of a “feast or famine” thing, since they have a hard time stopping people), so you can expect that Howard, who threw 12 interceptions, will feel the heat. The other side of it is that Mike Burcovici, the ASU quarterback who had a pretty nifty 26-9 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions, suffered through 39 sacks of his own, so it is clear that the ASU offensive line has to put forth an improved effort, as well as getting something out of their ground game, which averaged 185 yards per contest.

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