The Kent State Golden Flashes travel to Tempe next Thursday to battle the Arizona State Sun Devils in the first game of the season for both programs. Kickoff is set for 10:00 PM EST on August 29th at Sun Devil Stadium and the game will be broadcast on the PAC12 Network.
Taking a look at the Week 1 college football odds, Arizona State opened as a 26-point home favorite earlier this week. That line has shifted only slightly after early betting, as the Sun Devils are currently listed at -25. The total for the game is sitting at 61 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Arizona State vs Kent State
Kent State finished a disappointing 2-10 last season under first year head coach Sean Lewis, who is currently the youngest FBS coach at just 33 years old. Lewis is hoping that the Golden Flashes can gradually begin to turn things around, as the team will welcome back 14 starters but is facing an extremely tough non-conference schedule to open the year. Not only are they facing a tough opponent on the road in Arizona State here in Week 1, they also have to play Auburn and Wisconsin over the next six weeks. QB Woody Barrett returns under center for Kent State after starting in twelve consecutive game in 2018. He put up extremely solid numbers, throwing for 2,239 yards and 11 touchdowns while also adding 503 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground. Barrett also set a new school single-season record for total completions, racking up 229. The receiving trio of Mike Carrigan, Antwan Dixon, and Isaiah McCoy also played quite well, combining for over 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns. Things should continue to run smoothly for the Golden Flashes on offense moving forward, especially considering the fact that they are welcoming back four starters on the offensive line.
On the other side of the ball, Kent State gave up a highly troubling 36.7 points per game last season (116th overall). There is no doubt that if they hope to improve upon their lackluster two win season, the defense will need to drastically improve their week to week performances. The Golden Flashes especially struggled to defend against the rush, allowing their opponents to average over 220 yards per game on the ground (114th overall).
Arizona State managed to finish above .500 last season, going a respectable 7-6 in a tough PAC12 conference and clinching a spot in the Las Vegas Bowl. Head Coach Herm Edwards still has a lot of work to if he hopes to keep the Sun Devils moving in the right direction, especially with a brand new starting quarterback. Jayden Daniels has already been named the starter to open the season after beating out Dillon Sterling-Cole in fall camp. There is no doubt that there will be a lot of pressure on Daniels, as he is the highest-rated quarterback recruit in the history of ASU. RB Eno Benjamin should provide his true freshman quarterback with a ton of support after a fantastic 2018 campaign where he rushed for 1,642 yards and 16 touchdowns. He may be forced to carry even a bigger workload on offense this season after the departure of N’Keal Harry to the NFL.
On the other side of the ball, the Sun Devils were fairly solid on defense a year ago, giving up 25.5 points per game (53rd overall). are currently giving up 24.5 points per game (45th overall). They were just below average defending against both the run and the pass, ranking 74th and 71st overall respectively. However, after fielding the youngest overall defense in the country last season, the additional experience of the eight returning starters should provide a big boost.
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Arizona State -25
While there has been some chatter about Arizona State being a sleeper pick to win the PAC12 conference outright, I think that might be a bit of an overzealous prediction without seeing how Daniels is able to perform at the next level. It may take him a few games to adjust to the immense pressure and lofty expectations that come along with the quarterback position. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not expecting the Sun Devils to continue their strong play from last season right out of the gate. Eno Benjamin should have a monster performance here in Week 1 against a Kent State run defense that was exposed time and time again in 2018. While the line has shifted by a full point after opening at -26, I think that there is still some value to be found with the current spread of -25.
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Even though the Sun Devils were only 7-6 overall last year, they showed up to play week in and week out. In fact, they were within one possession of their opponent in each of their six regular season losses. Kent State is simply outclassed in this matchup, especially on the road where they haven’t found a way to win a game since they barely got past a dreadful 1-8 Bowling Green team last October.
If Daniels can avoid the true freshman jitters in his first ever appearance at this level, Eno Benjamin should be able to run all over a weak Golden Flashes defense. I don’t expect this one to be close for more than a couple of quarters, so give me Arizona State to cover with ease in their home opener.