Friday Night Lights: Arizona St. at Arizona

Published on Nov. 22, 2012, at 7:20 p.m. Eastern.
Updated on Nov. 23 at 12:45 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

The Rich Rodriguez Era in Tucson is off to a nice start and his team will try to put an exclamation point on his first campaign by beating arch-rival Arizona St. tonight.

As of early this afternoon, most books were listing Arizona (7-4 straight up, 6-5 against the spread) as a 2 1/2-point favorite with a total of 70. On Thursday, the numbers were three and 68 1/2. Gamblers can take the Sun Devils on the money line for a plus-130 return (risk $100 to win $130).

Arizona has won six of its seven home games, posting a 4-3 spread record. The Wildcats have impressive home victories over the likes of Oklahoma St. (59-38), Washington (52-17) and USC (39-36). Their lone defeat at home came in a 38-35 nail-biter versus Oregon St.

R-Rod’s squad has won four of its last five contests, including a 34-24 win at Utah as a three-point underdog last weekend. Ka’Deem Carey was the catalyst against the Utes, rushing for 204 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries.

Arizona senior quarterback Matt Scott ran for 74 yards and one TD, and he also threw for 160 yards and one score without being intercepted. For the season, Scott has connected on 61.5 percent of his passes for 3,008 yards with a 21/9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He gets it done on the ground as well, rushing for 443 yards and five TDs, averaging 4.6 yards per carry.

Carey is the nation’s most prolific running back, leading the country with 1,585 yards rushing. Carey has 19 rushing TDs and a 6.3 YPC average. He has 32 catches for 289 yards and one TD.

Scott has a pair of outstanding WRs in Austin Hill and Dan Buckner. Hill has a team-high 68 receptions for 1,119 yards and eight TDs.

Arizona St. (6-5 SU, 6-5 ATS) snapped a four-game losing streak by dealing out woodshed treatment in the form of a 46-7 clubbing of Washington St. as a 22-point home ‘chalk’ last Saturday.

Taylor Kelly torched the Cougars by completing 20-of-23 passes for 246 yards and four TDs without being intercepted. For the year, Kelly has a 66.7 completion percentage and 2,581 passing yards with a 25/9 TD-INT ratio.

Todd Graham’s squad has a 2-3 record both SU and ATS in five road assignments. The Sun Devils are winless both SU and ATS in three games as road underdogs.

The ‘over’ has hit at a 7-3 overall clip for Arizona, going 6-1 in its home games. Meanwhile, ASU has watched the ‘under’ go 6-4 overall, 3-2 in its road contests.

When these teams met in Tempe last season, Arizona collected a 31-27 win over ASU as a 10-point road underdog. Nick Foles lit up the Sun Devils for 370 passing yards and a pair of TD tosses without an interception.

The ‘under’ is 6-1 in the last seven head-to-head meetings and the lone ‘over’ came in miraculous fashion. In the game two years ago, Arizona trailed 20-14 in the final minute when Foles found David Douglas for a five-yard touchdown pass.

If the Wildcats convert the extra point with 27 seconds remaining, they most likely win 21-20 and the total easily stays ‘under’ the 57-point total. Let’s also add that the score was 7-6 before Foles hit Juron Criner for a 52-yard scoring strike with 2:01 remaining in the third quarter. (In other words, the possibility of the ‘over’ was really never an option the entire 60 minutes.)

But with 27 ticks left, ASU’s James Brooks blocked the Arizona PAT to keep the score knotted at 20-20. In the first overtime, both teams traded field goals to make it 23-23 (46 combined, still 11 below the total) going to double OT.

In the second extra session, Cameron Marshall put ASU ahead 30-23 on a two-yard TD scamper. Therefore, when Douglas scored on a nine-yard rush off a backward pass, ‘over’ backers (like me on that night!) had a winner.

Want to know about triple OT? It never happened. Brooks, yes the same Brooks who blocked the earlier PAT, blocked a second to give ASU an improbable 30-29 triumph.

ESPN will provide television coverage at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

–Cincinnati has covered the spread at an 8-1 ATS clip in its nine games against USF. The Bearcats are favored by 14 at home against the Bulls on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

–Troy has won six in a row against Middle Tennessee, going 5-1 ATS. The Trojans are three-point underdogs Saturday against the Blue Raiders in Murfreesboro.

–Washington has four in a row both SU and ATS. Junior quarterback Keith Rivers has not duplicated his numbers from 2011, but he has six touchdown passes without an interception in the last two games. The Huskies are 14-point favorites Friday night at Washington St.

–From 2002-2009, Southern Cal was not a home underdog once. During Lane Kiffin’s three-year tenure, the Trojans are 0-3 both SU and ATS as home ‘dogs. Notre Dame will try to clinch a spot in the BCS Championship Game when it invades The Coliseum on Saturday night as a 5 ½-point road favorite.

–The ‘under’ is 7-1 in the last eight head-to-head meetings between Florida and FSU.

–La. Tech owns a 7-2 spread record as a road underdog on Sonny Dykes’s watch the last three seasons. The Bulldogs, who lost at home in overtime to Utah St. last week, are four-point ‘dogs Saturday at San Jose St.

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