ARIZONA STATE VS. TEXAS A&M
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT
Las Vegas Line: Texas A&M -3.5; O/U 70
An indoor, football venue in Houston hasn’t seen this kind of potential for offense since Elvin Hayes dropped 39 points on UCLA in the Astrodome in 1968.
While Arizona State and Texas A&M likely won’t match the 140 points Houston and UCLA combined for in college basketball’s “Game of the Century” — the Las Vegas over/under is half that — these two should have no problem lighting up the scoreboard.
Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham touts a track record of working with no-huddle offenses for the last 20 years, dating back to his time on the Texas prep scene. Offensive coordinator Mike Norvell has added wrinkles to the system to maximize its potential, turning Arizona State into one of the most explosive teams in the country.
If any opponent can match Arizona State’s offensive potential, it’s Texas A&M. Kevin Sumlin’s cultivated his offense under Mike Leach and studied with Montana head coach Bob Stitt.
What both Norvell and Sumlin have done is cultivate schemes that fit playmakers into roles that best utilize their skills. For Arizona State, that means D.J. Foster moving to wide receiver this year and Demario Richard taking over as the feature back. For A&M, that means surrounding quarterback Kyle Allen with dynamic pass-catchers capable of making big plays in space like Speedy Noil, Ricky Seals-Jones and newcomer Christian Kirk.
Arizona State’s strategy for slowing Texas A&M is simple: bring pressure, and lots of it. Graham prefers a feast-or-famine approach, and offenses ate against a Sun Devil defense sans Carl Bradford and Will Sutton a season ago. How much improvement returning nine starters from a defense that struggled against top-quality competition yielded could be the difference for the Sun Devils.
Likewise, A&M needs to show it made major strides under new coordinator John Chavis.
MY PREDICTION: Arizona State 42, Texas A&M 35