College Football Picks: Bet Nebraska +7 vs.UCLA in Foster Farms Bowl

Ross Benjamin

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 10:38 PM GMT

Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015 10:38 PM GMT

Our handicapping professional takes a very early look at the upcoming bowl game between Nebraska and UCLA and provides his college football pick.

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College Football Pick: Nebraska +7
Best Line Offered: at Bovada

 

Foster Farms Bowl
Nebraska (5-7) and UCLA (8-4) will meet in the 2015 Foster Farms Bowl on Saturday 12/26. The opening kickoff at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California is slated for 9:15 PM ET. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN. Current (12/16) college football odds at 5Dimes have UCLA as a 7.0 point favorite, and the total is 61.0. These teams met during the 2012 and 2013 regular seasons. UCLA won and covered in both of those contests.

 

Misleading Cornhuskers Record
You can certainly make a case about how bowl games are watered down, when you have a 5-7 team like Nebraska participating. However, you must look deeper inside the numbers in order to see that the Cornhuskers were realistically a few breaks away from being 8-4 or 9-3. Their seven losses came by only a combined 31 points, all of those defeats were by 10 points or less, and four were by a field goal or fewer. Nebraska also handed Michigan State their only loss of the season. If you can pinpoint any one area that cost Nebraska dearly it came in the turnover department. They had a horrible -13 turnover margin in 2015.

Must Read: A Brief Primer on Handicapping Bowl Games

Question of Motivation
UCLA began this 2015 campaign by winning their first four games. They were considered to be a legitimate national title contender. Unfortunately their season took a 360 degree turn after being upset 38-23 at home as a 15.0 point favorite by Arizona State, and that began a 4-4 stretch during its final eight games. Even with that disappointing run, UCLA needed a win in their regular season finale in order to face Stanford in the PAC-12 Championship game.  They were routed by the Trojans 40-21 as a 2.0 point road underdog, and now find themselves in a minor bowl game versus an opponent with a losing record. As is the case with many bowl games, teams that appear to be superior on paper don’t always prevail. When they do fail, more times than not it’s due to lack of motivation, and poor preparation. Those are two obstacles that are areas of concern for a UCLA squad that had much higher aspirations heading into this 2015 season.

 

Final Thoughts and Pick
I believe will see a huge effort from Nebraska in this bowl contest. They’ll have a chip on their shoulder, and be out to prove they’re much better than their record indicates. First year head coach Mike Riley has a pretty decent track record in bowl games during his days at Oregon State. My intuition tells me that UCLA will be flat as an ironing board in this contest. I’m taking the points for one of my college football picks.

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