College Football Predictions: UCLA at Stanford Odds and Picks
by Trevor Whenham - 10/17/2013
It would be over the top to say that this is the biggest game that UCLA has ever played. There is little denying, though, that it is the biggest they have played since 2005. That was the last time that they were ranked in the Top 10, and they opened up 8-0 that year. They have some work to do this year to reach that mark, and it starts with this massive road test.
Stanford, on the other hand, is used to playing huge games after the last few years, and this one is no bigger than several others. What makes this one particularly important, though, is how they come into it. Their loss to Utah last week easily counts as the biggest upset of the year in college football and the most inexplicable outcome as well — with the possible exception of the Longhorns stunning upset of Oklahoma. The Cardinal have had to bounce back from losses before, but not since they lost to Wake Forest in the second game of 2009 have they had to rebound from a loss that never should have happened. With UCLA, Oregon State and Oregon in the next three games, and a tough win against Washington in the past, Stanford got caught looking past a team that is better than they appear. Will they let that get them down, or will they play mad and look to prove what they are really capable of?
UCLA at Stanford Betting Storylines
UCLA has not only their highest ranking in a decade to aim for but also a unique revenge angle. Stanford has won five games in a row in this series. The last two UCLA losses came within a week last November when the teams closed out the season and then met again in the Pac-12 Championship Game. It’s very rare for teams to meet twice in a season never mind twice in a week. UCLA played reasonably well in those games — especially the 27-24 championship game — but QB Brett Hundley needs to be a lot more accurate and consistent in this contest than he was back then if the Bruins want to come out on top. He’s coming off a 410-yard passing performance last time out against Cal — the third-best single game total in UCLA history.
As we discussed earlier, we know that the Cardinal have had to bounce back from losses before — and that they have done it successfully. What makes the situation more interesting, though, is that QB Kevin Hogan, in his second year as the starter, has never before lost a game. Hogan has not been sharp the last two weeks, and he blew the fourth-down play late against Utah that could have salvaged the game. His confidence could be shaken badly, and against a Top-20 defense he could create issues for his team if he isn’t at his best — or closer to it than he has been the last two games.
One interesting stat that jumps out when you look at these two teams is that UCLA has outscored their opponents by an almost impossible 71-0 margin in the third quarter. That means that Jim Mora and his staff are masters of the in-game adjustment and that the team responds well to coaching adjustments. That is perhaps the biggest asset the team brings into this game. It’s also what David Shaw and his Stanford staff will have to be aware of and prepared for. The game could be won while the bands are playing at the half. After trailing 21-14 at the half against Utah, Stanford should have jumped out of the gate in the second half, but instead lost the third quarter, 3-0. That’s a concern.
UCLA at Stanford College Football Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Stanford favored by 6.5 points at home. A slight majority of bets have come in on the Bruins, and that has led to a minor adjustment down to 6.0 points. Barring an injury or similar setback, we shouldn’t see significant further movement given the split of action. The total sits at 54.
The Bruins have not only won all five games this year, but they have covered the spread in each. Stanford is a strong 5-2 ATS in their last seven home games against UCLA. The Cardinal are just 1-4 ATS in their last five games following a straight up loss.
College Football Predictions: UCLA at Stanford Betting Picks
Stanford is the better team, and they have the advantage of playing at home. I am uneasy about how they lost last week, though, and I really don’t like the path that Kevin Hogan has been on recently. UCLA is hungry and talented, and I like their defense and the aggressiveness they are showing lately. Six points is too much to give them here, so the value is in the Bruins.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham