Arizona St. vs

Fresno St.

at Las Vegas
Sat, Dec 15
12:30 PM Pacific
Rotation: 205
Odds: Fresno St. -6, Total: 53.5

Game Analysis

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Fresno State (-6)  32   Arizona State  26

Arizona State surprised some people with their success this season under head coach Herm Edwards, who had been out of coaching for more than a decade before coming to the desert. ASU won 7 games and all 5 of their losses were by 7 points or fewer, so this team certainly should be in the hunt for a win in this game even without star WR N’Keal Harry and top tackler LB Merlin Robertson. Harry has abandoned his team to prepare for the NFL draft while Robertson is reportedly dealing with a family matter and did not make the trip to Vegas. Robertson actually is the bigger loss, as the freshman led the Sun Devils in tackles, sacks and total tackles for loss. Harry, meanwhile, is seen as a potential first-round NFL draft pick but his 9.5 yards per target isn’t that much better than the rest of the Arizona wide-receivers, who combined for 8.8 yards per target.

I still rate the Arizona State attack at 0.8 yards per play better than average without Harry and All-Pac 12 RB Eno Benjamin (1524 yards at 5.5 ypr) and veteran quarterback Manny Wilkins (7.5 yards per pass play and just 4 interceptions thrown all season) are still formidable. Benjamin will probably be held in check by an elite Fresno State defensive front that’s allowed just 4.0 yards per rushing play this season (to teams that would combine to average 5.1 yprp against an average team) but I expect Wilkins to have a solid game even without Harry against a suspect Fresno secondary. Fresno’s stats defending the pass look good (just 5.4 yards per pass play allowed) but the Bulldogs have faced a collection of quarterbacks that would combine to average only 5.3 yppp against an average defensive team. The math projects a decent 386 yards at 5.9 yards per play for the Sun Devils in this game.

Fresno State’s offense works because quarterback Marcus McMaryion is among the most accurate passers in the nation. McMaryion completed 69.5% of his passes with just 3 interceptions this season while averaging 8.2 yards per pass play (against teams that would allow 6.9 yppp to an average QB) and the Bulldogs’ rushing attack went from bad to decent (0.3 yprp worse than average) since Ronnie Rivers became the main ball-carrier starting in week 10. Overall, the Fresno attack rates at 0.5 yppl better than average coming into this game and they should move the ball well against a Sun Devils’ defense that was just average even with Robertson (0.1 yprp better than average and 0.1 yppp worse than average). I’ve adjusted for Robertson’s absence and the math now projects 439 yards at 6.5 yppl for the Bulldogs in this game.

The line on this game appears to have adjusted correctly to the star players that ASU is missing, as my math also has Fresno by 6 points, but I’ll lean with the over 55 or fewer points. The conditions look perfect for scoring with no wind expected on an artificial turf field and I think the market has over-adjusted for the absence of Neal. I also don’t think the Fresno pass defense is as good as perceived to be after considering the collection of mostly bad quarterbacks that they faced. The only good quarterbacks that they faced in decent weather conditions were Boise State’s Brett Rypien, who averaged 8.6 yards per pass play in week 11 against them, and Hawaii’s Cole McDonald, who averaged 7.7 yppp against the Bulldogs’ overrated secondary. Rypien wasn’t nearly as good in the blizzard conditions in the Mountain West Championship game but the math projects Wilkins to put up good numbers in this game.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Arizona St.
  • Fresno St.


  • Run Plays 35.9 36.4
  • Run Yards 186.2 176.2
  • YPRP 5.4 5.3


  • Pass Comp 19.0 18.9
  • Pass Att 30.3 31.3
  • Comp % 62.7% 60.4%
  • Pass Yards 233.9 233.9
  • Sacks 1.3 2.3
  • Sack Yards 7.1 15.4
  • Sack % 4.1% 6.9%
  • Pass Plays 31.6 33.6
  • Net Pass Yards 226.8 218.5
  • YPPP 7.2 6.5


  • Total Plays 67.5 70.0
  • Total Yards 420.2 410.1
  • YPPL 6.2 5.9


  • Int 0.5 0.9
  • Int % 1.5% 2.7%
  • Fumbles 0.3 0.6
  • Turnovers 0.8 1.5
  • Points 29.9 25.5
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