College Football Picks: California vs. UCLA

Willie Bee

Thursday, October 10, 2013 1:14 PM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 1:14 PM GMT

One of three perfect Pac-12 teams, UCLA dives into the meat of its schedule with a visit from Cal, and SBR has a free college football pick plus a preview. How should you play your sports picks in this game?

Check out our College Football Week 7 Betting Odds Report for more info on this week's games!

Is this the weekend we see the list of unbeaten teams pared down considerably? Sixteen FBS schools enter Week 7 on the college football betting schedule with perfect records, and while we fully expected many of them to have something-&-zero records at this point, there are several surprises on the list, some of which could be tested this Saturday.

One of those surprises would be the UCLA Bruins, and while their Week 7 opponents from up the coast in Berkeley might not look like much of a test, the California Golden Bears aren't about to lay down for this one.

The longtime West Coast rivals will gather at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in one of the final games on this week's NCAA betting card, ESPN2 providing coverage of the 10:30 p.m. (ET) kickoff. Current college football odds have the Bruins established as 24.5 point favorites after the spread opened a point lower. The total started at 71, rose to 73 during the week and has settled back down at the initial 71 point mark.

It's the 84th meeting between the schools, UCLA owning 50 wins in the series along with one clash ending in a draw. Six of Cal's 32 wins vs. UCLA have come in the past nine matchups, including last year's tilt in Berkeley where the Bears coasted to a 43-17 triumph as 2.5-point 'dogs. The Bruins have won five of the last six at the Rose Bowl, covering the spread each win.

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 Bears' Defense Among Nation's Worst

Sonny Dykes' first year on the job at California has been a struggle, to say the least. Hired last December to replace Jeff Tedford, Dykes only has a narrow win over Portland State, a 30+ point underdog, to show for his early effort. To be fair, the Golden Bears were in decline under Tedford and didn't have much in the way of talent waiting on their new head coach.

Also to be fair, Dykes and his staff haven't done anything yet to show they can get the program turned around. Even as a short 'dog last week against Washington State, the Bears came out flat and needed a couple of big pass plays, one a blown coverage by the Cougars, to make the final score look more respectable than it really was.

Throwing a true freshman to the wolves at quarterback has produced expected results. Jared Goff has all the potential to succeed someday and has shown improvement, but that hasn't been enough. Sixteen turnovers -- against nine takeaways -- are not entirely on Goff's shoulders, and without a decent offensive line or running game to support him, it's going to be a rough year for the frosh.

It also doesn't help that Cal's defense has been among the worst in the country. Only New Mexico State is allowing more points than the Bears, and the stop unit has let opponents run up and down the field on them to the tune of 524 yards per game.

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Will Hundley & Co. Have Field Day Vs. Cal?

That should have 2nd-year UCLA head coach Jim Mora and his staff eager to see what their offense can do vs. the Bears. The Bruins have racked up more yards per game than anyone but Baylor, Oregon and Texas A&M, chewing up a lot of that on the ground, and rank fifth nationally in scoring (48 ppg).

Brett Hundley has been efficient enough guiding the offense, spreading his tosses out among a deep group of UCLA receivers. The Bruins' air attack, however, has been helped along by a solid ground game which saw two key members go down in last Thursday's victory at Utah. Tackle Torian White tore up his right ankle and will be lost for the season, while top running back Jordon James is doubtful for the Cal game with his own ankle injury. Paul Perkins and Steven Manfro will carry James' load if he's unable to play.

The combination of UCLA's offense and Cal's defense are behind what is the third highest total that can be found on SBR's live NCAA football odds for Saturday; three of the last five in Pasadena failed to reach the number. Even without James in the backfield, the Bruins should be able to name their own score against the Bears.

But with road dates at Stanford and Oregon the next two weeks, I don't expect Mora to leave his 1st-stringers in long enough to really embarrass California. And I also do not believe the Bears are going to have much luck offensively. My free sports pick will be on the ‘Under’ in something along the lines of a 40-16 UCLA triumph.

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NCAA FB Pick: Bet the Bears/Bruins game to go UNDER 71.5 points, at Ladbrokes 

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