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Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez speaks to reporters at the Pac-12 NCAA college football media day in Los Angeles Thursday, July 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
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ESPN: Arizona, ASU football have favorable over/under odds

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez speaks to reporters at the Pac-12 NCAA college football media day in Los Angeles Thursday, July 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Rich Rodriguez hasn’t been too shabby since he’s arrived at Arizona.

Even in a down season last year, the Arizona Wildcats’ offense was dangerous. A revamped defensive coaching staff might mean that side of the ball can recover from a poor 2015 in the post-Scooby Wright era as well. What’s it all mean?

Perhaps money in your pocket.

Sharon Katz compared ESPN’s Football Power Index predictive win total analytic to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook’s over/under win total for the season.

Of Power 5 schools, Arizona had one of the biggest differences between those two numbers. In other words, it could be best to bet on the Wildcats.

The over/under is set at six victories, but the FPI projects Rodriguez’s team to win 7.2 games in 2016.

Coach Rich Rodriguez has averaged 7.5 regular-season wins in his four years at Arizona. That’s about in line with FPI’s projection for the Wildcats (7.2 wins) entering the 2016 season. Two-year starter Anu Solomon is reportedly in the midst of a quarterback competition, but whoever wins the job will have plenty of talent to work with on one of the top projected offenses in the Pac-12. The Wildcats’ defense must improve, but a seven-win season is certainly not out of the realm of possibility for a team that won 10 games and made the Pac-12 championship game two years ago.

But before you put the money down on Arizona, also consider that Arizona State might not be a bad bet, either.

The Sun Devils are only predicted to win five games by Las Vegas.

In June, ESPN’s Phil Steele said a good bet would be taking the over on ASU.

I understand where the number comes from, as the Sun Devils won only six games last year, have 10 returning starters and are the least experienced team in the Pac 12. Todd Graham has brought in double-digit junior college transfers to give them a more experienced team than they appear on paper. I like the size and speed of this year’s team overall. Graham has won an average of eight games per year in his four seasons at Arizona State, while never winning fewer than six, so this number is very cheap.

But going by the FPI comparison method, ASU isn’t quite as a sure thing as Arizona. FPI predicts the Sun Devils to win 5.6 games next season.

In any case, going with either of these bets would certainly make for a more stressful Duel in the Desert.

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