One of the late west coast contests in the Pac-12 takes place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California tonight when the Sun Devils square off against the Bruins (-3, 67). Kickoff is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET. Saturday Pac-12 Free Pick: Arizona State at UCLA.
The Sun Devils are most successful when running the football. The Bruins are more likely to win with All-American quarterback Josh Rosen healthy and throwing the ball around the field.
Arizona State heads into Saturday night’s matchup with one of the better running duos in the conference. Tailback Demario Richard registered 189 yards on the ground while quarterback Manny Wilkins registered nearly 100 yards in a win over Colorado last Saturday.
There are a large number of question marks about the Bruins motivations for the rest of the season. NFL prospect Rosen has taken big hits over the last month, especially in the team’s October 28 loss at Washington. Rosen missed last week’s trip to Utah in a loss to the Utes and it isn’t difficult to see the difference in the team’s offensive ability with and without Rosen.
The talents of Wilkins are not just rushing the football. The Devils’ signal-caller is a dual threat. His primary target is wideout N’Keal Harry who averages nearly seven receptions per contest. The Sun Devils game plan today will be to keep the UCLA offense on the sidelines as much as possible. They can accomplish this by eating clock and junks of yards on the ground.
Head coach Jim Mora Jr. was successful in convincing Rosen to not enter the NFL draft a season ago. Mora not only believed it would benefit the young quarterback but also assist him in keeping his job, this with the plan of challenging for a Pac-12 title this season. Unfortunately the Bruins don’t have the talent on the defensive side of the football to compete week-in and week-out.
Tonight’s game against ASU is a difficult matchup for the Bruins. The Sun Devils have been money in the redzone this season while the Bruins rank near the bottom of college football in most important defensive categories. The strength of the Sun Devils offense, their ability to run the football, squares off against the worst run defense in the Pac-12. Mora’s defense is allowing 303 yards per game via the run on the season.
Rosen returned to practice this week and appears likely to start. However, Rosen is likely to be a bit gun-shy against the blitz heavy Phil Bennett defensive scheme.
Saturday Pac-12 Free Pick: Arizona State at UCLA
The 5-4 Sun Devils look to become bowl eligible with a win and are the value play at the Rose Bowl tonight against the Bruins.
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