College Football Predictions: Arizona State at UCLA Odds and Picks
by Trevor Whenham - 11/21/2013
There obviously aren’t divisional championship games in college football, but this is the next best thing. If Arizona State wins this game then they will clinch the Pac-12 South and a date in the Pac-12 Championship Game against likely Oregon or potentially Stanford. UCLA won’t clinch if they win, but as long as USC isn’t upset by Colorado, it would set up a battle for Los Angeles that would decide the conference champion next week. In other words, there is no shortage of drama heading into this one.
Both teams come into this one on a winning streak. UCLA lost back-to-back games at Stanford and Oregon, but they have bounced back to win three straight. The Sun Devils haven’t lost in their last five since dropping a tight one at Notre Dame. UCLA has a slight edge from the betting perspective — they have covered their last two outings, while Arizona State has failed to cover their last two. The loser will find plenty of things to blame for the loss, but their form heading into this one isn’t one of them.
Arizona State at UCLA Betting Storylines
Regardless of which team you bet on, the one thing that seems like a fairly safe bet is that the Sun Devils will create a turnover. They have forced a turnover in each of their last 24 games — the third best streak in all of the FBS. Last week they had four interceptions against Oregon State. That ability to get the ball back has led to a remarkably balanced team. They are one of just five teams in the country that have their offense and their defense both in the Top 20 in the country. Three of the teams among that group are undefeated — Baylor, Florida State and Ohio State — so it’s an impressive distinction.
UCLA’s offense is humming — they scored 41 points last week. Like Arizona State, they have the defense to thank for it, but not in the way you would think. Of the six touchdowns scored last week, five were scored by defensive players moonlighting on offense. Linebacker Myles Jack has been a force at running back the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago the freshman appeared at running back for the first time and ran for 120 yards. Last week he became just the 13th player in school history — and the first since Maurice Jones-Drew — to score four touchdowns in a game. He managed that feat despite running for just 60 yards. A fifth TD was scored by Cassius Marsh, a defensive end who lined up as a tight end. While it’s an interesting accomplishment, this development isn’t a great sign for the team. You don’t throw your defensive players on the offensive side of the ball unless you have to. Jack is a weapon, but his role shows a shortage of depth in the backfield. The Bruins again have a long list of wounded — walking and otherwise — so you can likely bet that offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone will get creative again.
Jim Mora Jr. was an eyebrow-raising choice for many when the Bruins put their faith in him two years ago. I know I chuckled when I heard about the hiring. With a win in one of the last two games this year, though, he will set the record for the most wins in the first two seasons of a career at UCLA. He had a fair bit to work with when he arrived, but he has done an excellent job of maximizing the talent. He’s a very competitive guy, so you can be sure that that record will add an extra bit of motivation to a situation that will already have plenty here.
Arizona State at UCLA College Football Odds and Betting Trends
The line opened with UCLA as a two-point underdog at home. That line has now shifted to 2.5 points in most spots. More than 70 percent of bets have come in on the Bruins in this one, so the line movement is a good indicator that sharp money is on the Sun Devils.
Arizona State is just 2-2 away from home and 1-3 ATS. The Bruins are a perfect 5-0 in the Rose Bowl and 4-1 ATS. UCLA has gone “under” the total in six of their last seven against teams with a winning record. Arizona State is 0-5 ATS in their last five visits to UCLA and 2-8 ATS in the last 10 meetings overall.
College Football Predictions: Arizona State at UCLA Picks
There isn’t a whole lot to separate these two teams. I have concerns about the depth of the Bruins, but those are overcome by the fact they are playing at home, where they have excelled. This is an Arizona State team that lost in Utah the last time they traveled, so I struggle to trust them here. The line movement makes me a bit uneasy, but the Bruins are still the play.
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