Coach Rich Rodriguez might really be building something in the Arizona desert. Last week, his Wildcats (5-3, 2-3) stunned Southern Cal to end the Trojans’ national title hopes and put a dent in their Pac-12 title game chances. This week the Cats could pretty much end improved UCLA’s chances of winning the Pac-12 South for the second year in a row with another upset.
Jim Mora Jr. has done quite a job himself in Westwood as the Bruins (6-2, 3-2) would repeat as division champions – and have the pleasure of being routed by Oregon again – should they win out. The Bruins have won two straight, including a 45-43 thriller over Arizona State last week in which Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired.
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Freshman Brett Hundley continued his strong season, completing 19-of-31 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns. He became the first quarterback to pass for more than 200 yards this season against Arizona State and broke Tommy Maddox’s school freshman record with his 18th TD pass. He almost certainly will break Maddox’s freshman yardage record as well this season (Hundley is about 500 behind). Speaking of school records, Johnathan Franklin had 164 yards on the ground vs. the Sun Devils and is 20 yards shy of the UCLA career rushing record held by Gaston Green (3,731). Franklin leads the Pac-12 and is seventh nationally in rushing yards per game this season (130.3 yards per game).
Led by dual-threat QB Matt Scott, Arizona’s offense ranks No. 4 in the nation and tops in the Pac-12 in passing (354.4 ypg) and No. 20 nationally in scoring (39.1 points per game). Arizona has followed a three-game skid with back-to-back wins. Scott was a one-man wrecking crew last week vs. the Trojans. He passed for 369 yards and three touchdowns and added a career-high 100 rushing yards and another score. Scott is averaging 386.1 yards in total offense per game, which leads the Pac-12 and is No. 2 nationally.
Running back Ka’Deem Carey is No. 12 in the nation with 120.12 yards rushing per game. He has topped 100 yards rushing six times this season (four straight); last year as a team Arizona did that just five times. WR Austin Hill, who had 259 yards vs. USC, averages 117.1 yards per game, No. 2 in the Pac-12 and No. 5 nationally.
Arizona at UCLA Betting Storylines
So both teams have very good offenses -- that has been established. Defense is another story. In its three-game skid, Arizona allowed an average of 47 points per game. The Cats allow an average of 31.1 overall, which is No. 92 in the nation. And that’s somewhat misleading because it includes a shutout of FCS school South Carolina State in Week 2. Arizona is giving up 38.8 points per game in conference matchups and has allowed at least 35 in all but one of its Pac-12 games.
Franklin could have a big day against a defense that allows 167.5 yards on the ground and 15 touchdowns. That’s if Hundley doesn’t throw all day against the Pac-12’s last-rated pass unit (316.4 ypg, No. 117 in the country). RichRod essentially was fired at Michigan because of how bad the Wolverines were defensively, so he clearly still has work to do on that side. The only reason the team has won two straight is the defense, while still bending, has forced a total of eight turnovers in those games.
The UCLA defense is better but didn’t look it last week when the Bruins allowed season-highs in yards (535) and points against an up-tempo offense not that dissimilar from Arizona’s (UCLA also allowed 43 on Oct. 6 at a bad Cal team). ASU had 94 snaps, 15 more than any other team had against UCLA this season. Last week against USC, Arizona ran 94 plays. The Bruins rank No. 7 in the conference in passing defense (258.9 ypg) and in scoring (25.1). They are No. 6 nationally in sacks, however.
UCLA will be wearing some very unique jerseys for this game – I highly recommend you take a look. The Bruins haven’t beaten Arizona since 2006, and the Wildcats’ five-game winning streak in the series is the longest on either side. UCLA was blown out 48-12 in Tucson last year in which there was a brawl. While Arizona’s Scott is in his first year as a full-time starter, he did face UCLA in 2010 in L.A., a 29-21 Arizona win. With Nick Foles out injured, Scott completed 24-of-36 passes for 319 yards with a TD and interception.
Arizona at UCLA College Football Odds and Betting Trends
On 5Dimes, UCLA is a 3.5-point favorite with the total at 71. The Wildcats are 5-3 ATS this season and 5-2 “over/under”. UCLA is 5-3 ATS and 4-4 O/U.
Arizona is 4-1 ATS in its past five games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game. UCLA is 4-10 ATS in its past 14 games following a win. The over is 8-2 in Arizona’s past 10 after a win. The under is 7-0 in the Bruins’ past seven games after allowing more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game. Arizona is 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings.
Arizona at UCLA Predictions and Football Picks
There were some rumors that Scott might have suffered a concussion in the USC game as he was seen vomiting on the sideline, but he will start. Arizona has beaten two AP Top 25 teams this season (UCLA snuck into that poll this week at No. 25) but both of those were at home. In fact, Rodriguez is looking for his first road win at Arizona. In their previous two road games, the Wildcats lost 49-0 at Oregon and 54-48 in overtime at Stanford.
Have to love the over here as both teams could get into the 40s, but I lean ever so slightly to taking the points and Arizona.
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