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No. 24 ASU Football at UCLA: Sun Devils Eye Redemption and Win no. 6 in Pasadena
By Peter Bouloukos, DieHardDevil.com
October 25, 2019 7:23 PM

The Sun Devils and Bruins’ seasons are both on the line Saturday. UCLA has just two wins so far in Chip Kelly’s second season, yet the Bruins remain in contention in the Pac-12 South.  

The Bruins’ stoppers can get behind the line of scrimmage.  Against a disciplined Stanford team last week, UCLA had seven sacks and eleven tackles for a loss. They held the Cardinal to just 55 yards rushing on 30 carries. 

The UCLA secondary will have issues holding up in space against a talented core of Sun Devil receivers. OC Rob Likens will figure out how to get Brandon Aiyuk more than one touch from the line-of-scrimmage in Pasadena. Even after the Utah debacle, Aiyuk ranks 11th in the FBS with 658 receiving yards along with five touchdowns.  

 

Last week, Eno Benjamin had 15 carries for 104 yards. I think Benjamin gets twice as many touches against the Bruins in the Rose Bowl. 

Bruins’ Sophomore Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has established himself as a true dual-threat signal-caller. Standout Senior Running Back 5’11” 220-pound Joshua Kelley got back on track with a 176-yard performance against Stanford last week. 

UCLA has scored 149 points in its past four games. They’ve also played the 9th-toughest schedule in the FBS this year surrendering 34.6 points per contest. 

UCLA’s defense had Stanford’s young signal-caller Jack West seeing ghosts all day long. On Saturday they’ll take cues from Utah’s effective shutdown of true Freshman Jayden Daniels with the bull-rush, blitz’, and spies. 

Arizona State absolutely must improve on their paltry 136 yards against Utah. The Devils now sit at No. 105 in the FBS in scoring (22.1 points a game) and No. 98 in total offense (346.6 yards per game). As much as Eno Benjamin needs to have a huge-game for ASU to win in Pasadena, the recipe for success against this UCLA team is passing the ball.

The Bruins will not make it easy for Daniels to bounce back from his 4-18 performance for 25 total yards against the Utes. You can bet UCLA Defensive Coordinator Jerry Azzinaro has watched every Sun Devil snap from Salt Lake. 

 

 

THE FUNDAMENTALS 

It’s no secret ASU has been led by Danny Gonzales’ defense all season. Arizona State’s D is fast and physical, and I think they could run with almost any offense in the FBS.

Through seven contests Gonzales’ group is surrendering just 18.1 points and 352.7 yards per game. The offense simply can’t leave them on the turf for 35 minutes as they did at Utah.

Now the Bruins have managed two very nice wins on the road (Stanford & Washington State) but have lost to Cincinnati, San Diego State, Arizona, Oregon State, and Oklahoma. UA beat UCLA without their two best players on offense, Quarterback Khaliil Tate and Running Back J.J. Taylor. Back-up QB – 6’5” 225-pound Grant Gunnel passed for 352-yards and a touchdown in the 20-17 Wildcat victory on September 28 in Tucson.

Bruins’ Coach Chip Kelly is a lot like Wazzou’s Mike Leach in that he relies on his offense to win games. UCLA is certainly due for a home win after starting the season 0-3 at the Rose Bowl, but it’s not going to happen against a very well-coached Sun Devil team looking to make another statement in So Cal (ASU beat USC 38-35 last year). LA is home to an increasing number of Sun Devil players who want to make their own statements to family and friends in attendance.

IN A PERFECT WORLD 

Eno Benjamin needs to run the ball 25 times and catch at least 5 passes to keep UCLA honest.  A dual-back RPO in spots by Rob Likens would allow the motion to reveal what’s coming from the Bruin linebackers. Jayden can make the final play call before the snap. 

Against an aggressive defense, it would also provide extra protection to send Brandon Aiyuk on a go-route.  Rob Likens must respond better with timely adjustments to defensive pressure and use it to his advantage. It looked like the wide-receiver screen was open all day long last week, and Eno Benjamin was simply underutilized by getting the rock just fifteen times.  

VEGAS

 ASU -3 | O/U 55.5 

 

THE TRENDS

  • 👉 Arizona State is 3-6 ATS in their last 9 games.
  • 👉 The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Arizona State’s last 8 games.
  • 👉 Arizona State is 5-2 SU in their last 7 games.
  • 👉 The Sun Devils are 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games against UCLA.
  • 👉 ASU is 4-2 SU in their last 6 games against the Bruins.
  • 👉 The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Arizona State’s last 5 games on the road.
  • 👉 Arizona State is 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games when playing on the road against the University of California-Los Angeles.
  • 👉 The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Arizona State’s last 7 games this season.
  • 👉 The Sun Devils are 6-3 SU in their last 9 games against an opponent in the Pacific 12 conference.
  • 👉 Arizona State University is 5-10 in its last 15 games played in October.

PREDICTION

Let’s be honest about why the Bruins’ defense had a season-best-performance against the Stanford Cardinal last Saturday – they were facing a third-string pocket-passer making his first career start. 

ASU is coming off a season-high 9.0 tackles for loss and two-sacks against #13 Utah. They also had a season-high four takeaways, even though the Utes had committed just three turnovers before facing ASU.  

Bruin QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson will be running for his life on Saturday evening. He may convert a few third-downs with his legs but look for 2+ interceptions in a 34-17 loss to the Sun Devils.  

 

How’s this for Specificity?

Danny Gonzales’ crew will shore up the penalties, have three sacks, seven tackles for loss, and two quarterback hurries. I think UCLA struggles to get beyond 240 yards of total offense. 

Eno Benjamin will run for 127 yards on 24 carries and have four receptions for 37 yards. 

Brandon Aiyuk will have nine receptions including a 50-plus yard touchdown and just over 200 all-purpose yards in what should be a punt-happy day for the Bruins. 

Daniels will pass for 293 yards on 27 attempts. He’ll rush for 70 yards, hopefully on some prescribed runs as opposed to last week.  

Arizona State runs the ball more than 40 (43) times in the win along with a Sparky Package near the goal-line. 

 

THE GAME 

ASU Sun Devils vs. UCLA Bruins. Saturday, Oct. 26 at 4:30 p.m. in the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California. The contest will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks and can be heard over the airwaves locally on ESPN Phoenix 620 AM.

 

 



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