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We’ve got a rematch of what was a very exciting game last year here as the Michigan State Spartans host the Arizona State Sun Devils. Both teams are 2-0, so one of them will suffer their first defeat of the season here. Arizona State coach Herm Edwards will lead his men into battle on the road and try to pick up a signature win. Oddsmakers have the Spartans as nearly two-touchdown favorites for this one, which will be nationally televised on FOX.
Arizona State is in its second season with Edwards at the helm after luring the former NFL head coach away from his job at ESPN. So far things have gone pretty well for Edwards, as the program churned out a 7-5 regular-season record in his first year at the helm. After Manny Wilkins graduated, the Sun Devils now have a new quarterback under center in freshman Jayden Daniels. They’ve gone 2-0 so far, with wins over Kent State and Sacramento State.
Michigan State had one of the nation’s better defenses last year, but they wasted it with an abysmal offense. They again have an elite defense, and it remains to be seen how good the offense is going to be. Hopes are high in East Lansing, and they enter this one ranked #18 in the AP Poll. Michigan State lost in heartbreaking fashion at ASU last year, so they’ll have revenge on their minds here.
ASU Starting Freshman
Arizona State made a bold hire last year when they lured away Herm Edwards from ESPN to be their new head coach. The move was met with a lot of criticism, as Edwards hadn’t coached in a decade and was an NFL coach before joining ESPN. It felt gimmicky to some, but so far Edwards has done a great job recruiting and he was able to go 7-6 in his first year in charge.
ASU lost Manny Wilkins to graduation, so they’re starting fresh with a new quarterback this year. To replace him, they went with Jayden Daniels. Daniels has been decent, although he hasn’t been asked to do too much. The Sun Devils are 2-0, but their two wins came against Kent State and Sacramento State. The game against Sac State was way closer than it should’ve been, and they were only up three at halftime. Despite playing lower-tier competition the offense hasn’t been great, and Daniels has only three touchdown passes. The defense has looked good, holding their first two opponents to only 14 total points.
That being said, this game is going to come down to Daniels. He’s a freshman making his first career road start against a ranked power conference team with an elite defense. It’s a lot to ask for such a young kid, and this game will tell us a lot about what type of conference season ASU is going to have. So far they’ve averaged only 3.1 yards per carry, and that might not get any better against an elite Michigan State run defense.
MSU Dominating Defensively
Michigan State had high expectations last year and failed to come anywhere close to meeting them. They had a lot of bad injury luck and ended up limping to a 7-6 record. The offense struggled the whole year, and they scored exactly six points in three of their last four games. Brian Lewerke was inconsistent, and then he got hurt toward the end of the season. Lewerke is back healthy for 2019, and the Spartans are hoping he’ll be able to take them to the next level. If Lewerke can get consistent, the sky is the limit for this MSU team because their defense is truly elite. They have a top-five defense in the nation, and that’s not hyperbole.
Hear from Spartan players previewing this week's game against Arizona State with this week's practice update, then c'mon out to Spartan Stadium Saturday afternoon. Spartans vs. Sun Devils at 4 p.m. Be there and #GoGreenWearGreen!#ChaseTheMoment#GoGreen pic.twitter.com/P1tjQHMigz
— Michigan State Football (@MSU_Football) September 12, 2019
They enter this one at 2-0, and in their first game they held Tulsa to -73 rushing yards. Yes, you read that right. The defensive front is incredible, and they should be able to make life miserable for ASU’s freshman quarterback. Lewerke was up and down in the opener, but he looked a whole lot better in Week 2 against Western Michigan. In that game, he threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns while MSU rolled over WMU 51-17. Western Michigan averaged only 2.5 yards per carry in that game, and this MSU defensive front is simply not going to give up anything on the ground. If Lewerke can string together games like he had against WMU, this Spartans team can finish the year ranked in the top ten.
Coach Dantonio Talks about the Arizona State defense, which is similar to the one that Tulsa ran.
“Well, I think first of all, we’re playing three teams with distinct different defenses every game, so there is always a little bit of a learning curve. Even though they are a 3-3-5 team, they are different than Tulsa in terms of what they do in the back end coverage-wise, and also what they are doing up front.
I mean, they are a penetrating type of team. They put a lot of people at the point of attack. A lot of different pressures and movement up front, so a little bit like Western in that fact, a little bit like Tulsa in the fact that they are built from a 3-3-5 standpoint, but there are similarities, but there’s definitely differences in the three teams.”
- 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points
Sun Devils are:
- 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
- 21-43-2 ATS in their last 66 road games vs. a team with a winning home record
- 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win
Updated on Sep 14 at 8:30am EDT
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
Michigan State has gone from -11 up to -15, while getting 77% of the bets. The Sharps may be helping their line movement just a bit.
Injury / Weather Report
Arizona State’s Impact Injury Report
Questionable: PK Brandon Ruiz, WR Curtis Hodges, and WR Geordon Porter
Michigan State’s Impact Injury Report
Out: OT Cole Chewins, TE Noah Davis, WR Jalen Nailor, and LS Ryan Armour
Weather: Sunny with temps in the mid-70s
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Michigan State is going to get their revenge from last year here, and they’re going to do it in dominating fashion. MSU hasn’t been giving up anything on the ground because of their elite defensive front, which means ASU will have to do it all through the air. That means they’ll be counting on a freshman quarterback to carry them against this elite Michigan State defense, which is a recipe for disaster. Lewerke looked really good last week and should be able to carry over some of that momentum here.
Prediction: Michigan State -14
Full-Game Total Pick
Even though I’m laying a large spread I still like the under because I don’t see Arizona State scoring much at all. We have a freshman quarterback playing on the road for the first time, against his first real opponent, and we already know they aren’t going to be able to run the ball. It should be a long day for ASU’s offense, and Lewerke isn’t going to do enough to send this one over by himself.