Week 4 - Utah at Arizona State

Posted Sep 19, 2012

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction – Utah at Arizona State

Utah (2-1) at Arizona State (2-1) Sept. 22, 10:00, Pac-12 Networks

Here's The Deal: Former WAC rivals Utah and Arizona State meet in Tempe in the first of a handful of games that'll determine USC's stiffest competition in the Pac-12 South race. The Sun Devils have won eight straight in the series, but this is just the second meeting since 1993. The two programs enter Week 4 with starkly different mindsets. ASU is looking to rebound from its first loss of the year, a 24-20 shortfall on the road at Mizzou. After quickly raising expectations in Todd Graham's debut, the Sun Devils want to make sure that they don't fall back into the same bad habits that marred the Dennis Erickson regime. The Utes, conversely, are soaring after rebounding from a tough loss to beat rival BYU. A week after losing a game to Utah State and a quarterback, Jordan Wynn, to retirement, Utah showed its mettle and toughness in the annual Holy War as star RB John White rested an ankle injury.

Why Utah Might Win: As the offense adapts to key injuries, the physical defense has taken on an even larger role in Salt Lake City. The Utes have yet to allow more than 21 points in regulation, and rank No. 15 overall in the country. Better yet, talented safeties Brian Blechen and Eric Rowe are expected back from suspension and an injury, respectively. Utah will win the battle at the point of attack with an average Arizona State O-line that struggled in Columbia last weekend. Led by 6-4, 320-pound DT Star Lotulelei and 6-7, 280-pound DE Joe Kruger, Utah can be immovable up front, a hurdle for a Sun Devil team that wants to establish the ground game.

Why Arizona State Might Win: The Sun Devils might be catching a break this week if White is unable to go, or is at less than full strength with his ankle. He has already missed practice this week. QB Jon Hays is gutty, but not physically imposing. Albeit against watered-down competition, the Arizona State D has played well so far, picking off seven passes and allowing just a pair of touchdown throws. Consistent with a Graham-led unit, the team has been very aggressive and opportunistic. DT Will Sutton is playing like an All-Pac-12 performer, while linebackers Chris Young and Brandon Magee are cleaning up at the second level. ASU currently leads the league in sacks and tackles for loss.

What To Watch Out For: Just because ASU's two-quarterback system didn't work a week ago doesn't mean it's going anywhere. Graham likes using Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubank, who bring something very different to the offense. The coach has the utmost confidence in Kelly, whose leadership and accuracy first earned him the job. However, Eubank's size and athletic ability make it difficult not to employ him on a situational basis. Graham will continue to juggle his underclassmen, hoping to maximize their unique skills.

What Will Happen: With Arizona State and Utah butting heads, many drives will end in punts, and the play is going to be very physical. The Sun Devils will attempt to pound the ball with Cameron Marshall and Marion Grice, but will hit a wall. This game will be won by the play of the ASU defense and the passes of Kelly. The quarterback will keep it simple, engineering his most pivotal drives with help from TE Chris Coyle and backs swinging out of the backfield.

CFN Prediction: Arizona State 26 … Utah 20
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Arizona State -7 O/U: 50
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ray Lewis: A Football Life, 1 – Frankenweenie): 2.5