No. 15 Arizona will travel across the state for a rivalry clash with neighbor Arizona State on Saturday (11/25/23). Get Arizona vs. Arizona State odds, picks and predictions below. Our best bet is under 50.5 points.
Arizona vs. Arizona State Prediction
These schools are staying together amid the demise of the Pac-12. Yhey’ll be moving to the increasingly-poorly named Big 12. They’ll stick together and the conference will presumably make this game an annual series. Both schools were founded in 1885, joined the Border Conference together in 1931, and the WAC in 1962 before finally coming to the Pac-12 in 1978. Now,they’ll move together once more.
They’ve played 96 times across all of those eras, and the overall score is quite close- 50 wins for Arizona, 45 for ASU and one tie. Last year, Arizona snapped a five-game ASU winning streak within the series. The Wildcats are heavily favored to retain the Territorial Cup, the oldest trophy in College Football. It’s so old that Arizona was a territory rather than a state when it was created, hence the name. While this rivalry will live on, the final meeting between these two teams in the conference of which they’ve both been members for so long marks the end of an era. Both teams want to write the last sentence in this particular chapter of the series’s story.
The Wildcats’ season has been a wild one. After a mediocre 5-7 season last year, expectations were not high. While the Wildcats got off to a 3-1 start, the optimism quickly faded when quarterback Jayden de Laura was forced to exit a tight win over Stanford with an injury. With backup Noah Fifita at the helm, the team lost its next two games in heartbreaking fashion against top competition. Arizona could have easily folded, but instead they fought back. Since then, they’ve won five games in a row.
De Laura is now healthy, but Fifita owns the starting job after some stellar performances. He’s thrown 18 touchdowns and just four picks, as he’s steered the Wildcats to ranked status, as high as No. 15 in the CFP poll. If a few other games break their way, they could even take their Cinderella story to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Championship. Even without help, they could be contenders for a New Year’s Six bowl with a 9-3 record, an outcome that would have been unthinkable before the season.
They’ll first have to get through their in-state rivals, who will be doing everything they can to play spoiler. The Sun Devils have no shot at bowl eligibility, nothing to play for other than hatred of their rival and a desire to end Year One of the Kenny Dillingham era on a high note.
With Arizona set to cruise into the offseason and ASU inept on the offensive side of the ball, this is set to be a low-scoring affair. ASU won’t have the ability to compete on either side of the ball. When Arizona pulls ahead, it will likely relax. The Wildcats could very well have much bigger things in their future.
Arizona vs. Arizona State Prediction: Under 50.5 Points
Arizona vs. Arizona State Best Odds
Arizona is a road favorite of 11.5 points, or -450 on the moneyline. Arizona State is +340 to win at home. The total is set at 50.5 with the under slightly favored at -115.
Arizona vs. Arizona State Key Matchups
Arizona State will need to find big plays against a relatively vulnerable Arizona air defense, while the Wildcats will look to simply impose their will on the ground and control the football.
Arizona Rushing Offense vs. Arizona State Run Defense
The Arizona ground game doesn’t have the star power of the air-based attack, but it’s done a great job keeping the team ahead of the chains. Jonah Coleman has been a great lead back for Arizona, with an average of 7.1 yards per carry and 23 receptions as well. DJ Williams has also run for four touchdowns, as another key cog in a Wildcats rushing attack that ranks 32nd in EPA per play. The Wildcats also rank 53rd in PFF’s run blocking grade, anchored by star left tackle Jordan Morgan.
The ASU run defense has not fared so well, as they rank 97th in the country in EPA per play against the run, allowing 4.2 yards per opponent rush. The unit has been anchored by the defensive line, most specifically interior linemen C.J. Fite and Dashaun Mallory, whose average depths of tackle are 0.0 and 1.3 yards, respectively. These two will have to continue to compensate for a terrible linebacking crew as they seek to slow down a potent Arizona attack.
Arizona State Passing Offense vs. Arizona Air Defense
Despite playing a majority of the snaps for this team, quarterback Trenton Borguet has thrown just one touchdown for Arizona State on 248 attempts. He’s “contributed” to an air game that ranks 124th in the country in EPA per play, and his top target by far has been Elijhah Badger, who leads the team with 65 catches, 713 yards and three scores. The offensive line ranks 85th in PFF’s pass blocking grades, as center Leif Fautanu has done a good job holding things together amidst plenty of injuries.
The reason ASU will need to lean on such an anemic pass attack, rather than their above-average run game, is that Arizona’s air defense ranks just 84th by EPA per play, compared to ninth for their run defense. The Wildcats rank barely inside PFF’s top 100 teams by coverage grade, and just outside in terms of pass rush, as all facets of defending the pass have proven to be an achilles heel.