- N’Keal Harry isn’t playing for the Sun Devils in the Las Vegas Bowl, which is bad news because Fresno State is eager to show what it can do against Power 5 talent.
Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (-4.5)
Sat., December 15, 3:30 p.m. ET
Three things to know before betting on Arizona State-Fresno State:
1. Since the start of last season, Fresno State is 10-1 against the spread when facing teams that have a completion percentage of 58% or better. Not only are the Bulldogs capable of making their opponents uncomfortable in the passing game, but the Sun Devils will be short-handed as well. Star wide receiver N’Keal Harry has opted to skip this game for Arizona State, as he is shutting down his season to start preparing for the 2019 NFL draft. To say that the Sun Devils will miss his 73 catches for 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns would be an understatement. Fresno State is also 10-2 against the spread when facing teams with winning records over the last two seasons. Meanwhile, Arizona State is just 12-25 against the spread when facing teams with a winning percentage of 75% or better dating back to 1992.
2. With N’Keal Harry out, the Sun Devils could run the ball more than usual. Eno Benjamin carried the ball 23.1 times per game during the regular season for Arizona State. That number could rise to 30 in the Las Vegas Bowl, and Benjamin, who is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, will likely break off a few big runs in this game. But Fresno State should be able to contain the damage. The Bulldogs' run defense ranks 36th in the nation with 129.8 rushing yards allowed per game, and Fresno State has allowed opponents to score just seven rushing touchdowns all season (tied for the best mark in FBS).
3. The Bulldogs don’t exactly have the best running game in the world, but that’s okay because Marcus McMaryion is one of the better quarterbacks in all of college football. People don't talk about the senior very often, but McMaryion has thrown for 3,453 yards with 25 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He is completely in control of this offense, and he rarely makes a costly mistake. It helps that he has wideout in KeeSean Johnson, who hauled in 93 passes for 1,307 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Johnson will definitely make his mark on this game against a below average Arizona State passing defense. The Bulldogs had 31 or more points in seven games this season and should make it eight here while also limiting Arizona State in Las Vegas.
Pick: Fresno State (-4.5)
Confidence level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)