Herm Edwards silenced the doubters for at least one week as he made a triumphant return to the sidelines in the Arizona State Sun Devils 49-7 rout of Texas-San Antonio last week. Edwards hadn’t coached a game since 2008 when he was with the NFL’s Chiefs, and he had never been a head coach at the collegiate level until his surprising hire at ASU. The competition gets a bit tougher in Week 2 when the Sun Devils host the No. 15 ranked Michigan State Spartans in a Pac-12/Big Ten showdown in the desert.
Watch this Week 2 matchup live on ESPN Saturday, September 8, 2018, at 10:45 p.m. ET at Sun Devil Stadium.
College Football Odds at BookMaker.eu
Michigan State Spartans -6.5
Arizona State Sun Devils +6.5
Last week’s results haven’t scared away Michigan State backers with the opening line wagered from Sparty -4 to its current -6.5. The action has leveled off with nearly 53 percent of the wagers in favor of the visitors. The total has dropped a point since opening at 57 and the under is getting plenty of play, which could lead to more movement before kickoff.
Matchup to Watch
Sparty escaped a near upset to Utah State in the opener, getting a late touchdown to subdue the Aggies, 38-31, in a game that had them favored by more than three touchdowns. Utah State’s no-huddle offense created plenty of problems for the Spartans, who were often trying to substitute defenders in-between plays. Michigan State surrendered 344 yards to the Group of Five Aggies, but the run defense that ranked No. 2 in the country last year was tough to penetrate. MSU gave up just 25 rushing yards on 25 carries.
The Sun Devils will counter with a ground game that shredded the Roadrunners. Led by Eno Benjamin, who scampered for 131 yards and averaged of 8.2 per carry, ASU amassed 266 yards on the ground. Isaiah Floyd added 79 yards with 8.8 yards per carry and the Sun Devils gained nearly 7.5 yards on each of their attempts. The ground game is aided by one of the most experienced lines in the Pac-12, but will face a much different foe on Saturday.
Player to Watch
Both teams like to run the football and they have the horses to do it. Benjamin is ASU’s top recruit from 2017 and he had a standout game in the opener. L.J. Scott has been the Spartans top ground gainer in each of the past three seasons and he totaled 84 yards against Utah State. The key performer in this game, however, is going to be ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins.
Wilkins is coming off a junior campaign that saw him throw for 3,270 yards with 20 touchdowns and only eight interceptions while completing 63.4 percent. And Sparty’s defense was susceptible to the pass last week, allowing Utah State’s Jordan Love to complete 66 percent of his throws for 319 yards. The Devs might have a tough time running the football, so Wilkins will have to be on his game for ASU to claim the upset.
It’s only one game, but Michigan State did what it wanted to offensively against Utah State. Brian Lewerke was efficient in the passing game and Scott did the heavy lifting on the ground, giving MSU the balance it craves to compete in the rugged Big Ten East. Sparty amassed 452 total yards with 287 through the air and 165 on the ground.
More importantly, the Spartans were able to keep the chains moving by converting 64.7 percent of their third-down chances. It also allowed them to control the clock. MSU held the rock for nearly 38 minutes.
Free ATS Pick
Michigan State struggled against a lesser opponent, but the Spartans put together a drive when they needed to. ASU had no problem with UTSA and the two will get a better feel for how things look after Saturday’s game. Both teams were undisciplined with penalties nearly costing the Spartans. They were flagged on two drives deep in USU territory, settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. The outcome could have been much worse.
Arizona State will need to get stops and get MSU’s offense off the field. If Sparty controls the game, they wear the Devils down and take over in the second half. ASU will give a spunky effort and we’ll see some stars in Benjamin and N’Keal Harry. But MSU is the better team and it will rebound from a shaky effort to cover the line.
College Football Odds: Michigan State 31, Arizona State 23
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