Free College Football Picks: Arizona State at California 10-24-2010

October 22, 2010

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Arizona State Sun Devils at California Golden Bears

Saturday October 23rd, 2010 3:30 PM EST

Line: California -3 1/2

Overview:

The 3-3 Golden Bears are undefeated at home thus far this season. They will look to maintain that perfect record as they take on the 3-3 Arizona State Sun Devils. The Sun Devils have been involved in close games often this season, losing to ranked Wisconsin on the road by one due to a botched extra point and to Oregon State by only a field goal. Cal was embarrassed by USC last week. Despite playing well at home, a loss like that is tough to stomach and may have lingering ill effects on the Bears in this game.

Keys to the Game:

  • Shane Vereen is a dominating running back, but he might have trouble against ASU’s swarming defense. ASU gets multiple hats to the ball carrier. Their linebacker corp is among the nation’s best, led by sophomore Vontaze Burfict. Vereen struggled last week against USC after putting up three 100+ yard games in a row. If Vereen breaks loose, Cal has the potential to put up a huge amount of points. Despite Vereen’s efforts, they only came away with one victory when he had a huge game. Vereen going off does not automatically equate to a victory, though it definitely helps their cause. Arizona State needs to limit the big plays by setting the edge and forcing Vereen between the tackles. It will be up to the line backers to keep Vereen in check.
  • Steven Threet has played lights, but he has two or three bad throws a game that are destroying his team. His quarterback rating is off the charts in all of his games, but the turnovers could not come at a worse time. He puts his team in a position to win when he plays conservatively. Even after turning the ball over seven times, Arizona State was still in contention in the final minutes against #2 Oregon. Threet threw three interceptions against the Oregon State Beavers and Arizona State still only lost by a field goal. If Threet can limit turnovers, ASU has shown they can win without spectacular quarterback play. Forcing the ball into bad situations is something Threet is going to have to eliminate from his game if he wants to give his team a chance to win.
  • Kevin Riley has never thrown an interception in a game that the Golden Bears have won. Teams give his experience a lot of credit, but he struggles when teams come after him with reckless abandon like USC did last week. The score was 42-0 at the half and could have easily been worse if USC did not decide to pull back in the second half. Riley was completely ineffective after USC came with everything they had and shut down Vereen. The Sun Devils need to work on stopping Vereen first and foremost, though getting Riley out of rhythm should take precedence over worrying about the receivers down field. Marvin Jones is talented, but if Riley is being pressured he becomes a non factor.

Wrap Up:

Cal might be commanding too much respect from Vegas. If nothing else, this game should be a pick-em. Arizona State has only lost by more than three points once this year and that was to the number two ranked team in the country. While I don’t think Cal was as bad as they appeared to be last week against USC, I don’t think they should be favored in this game. ASU wins outright.

Free College Football Pick: Arizona State +3 1/2


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