College Football Picks: Talented Road Dog UCLA Takes Down Utah

Teddy Covers

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 8:33 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015 8:33 PM UTC

Join us in our handicapping of Saturday's game as road dogs UCLA Bruins visit the Utah Utes. Review our college football odds breakdown and take advantage of the free college football picks.

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UCLA Bruins vs. Utah Utes
Line: Utes -2, O/U 58
UCLA had a value problem from Day 1 this year. The Bruins were hyped fairly significantly this past offseason. Then frosh QB Josh Rosen lit up Virginia on national TV on opening day; followed by an at least modestly fraudulent blowout win in Las Vegas against UNLV. They closed out September with another national TV blowout, at Arizona, and the markets grew to ‘white hot’ status in support of the Bruins. But as Jim Mora’s teams have done fairly consistently, UCLA was unable to maintain that early season level of play for an extended period of time. The Bruins suffered ugly losses at home to Arizona State and on the road at Stanford. They were flat as a pancake at home against lowly Colorado, barely escaping with a four point win as -22.5 point favorites. Last week, they lost SU at home as double digit favorites against upstart Washington State; unable to get the one stop they desperately needed with the clock winding down in the fourth quarter.


Key Injuries
UCLA’s defense has been decimated with key injuries, losing their single best upperclassman player from the defensive line (Eddie Vanderdoes), their linebacking corps (Myles Jack), and their secondary (Fabian Moreau) to season ending injuries. That being said, they’re expected to be a good notch or two healthier this week, with the expected return of Isaako Savaiinaea, John Johnson, and Josh Woods amongst their back seven defensively. And impact senior WR Devin Fuller is expected to play after missing the game against the Cougars last Saturday.


The Game
UCLA trails Utah and USC by a single game in the PAC-12 standings. They face Utah in Provo this week, followed by a cross town trip to USC next Saturday. UCLA’s destiny is still very much in their own hands – if they can notch back-2-back wins, they win the PAC-12 South and get a rematch with the Cardinal in the PAC-12 title game with a top bowl bid on the line. Of course, that’s a big ‘if’.

That being said, my power ratings have UCLA as the superior team, even though they are underdogs according to the college football odds. Their pass defense numbers are simply outstanding, good news against Utah’s 6-7 southpaw QB Travis Wilson. Bruins RB Paul Perkins is an absolute beast; and each of UCLA’s top three backs averages better than 6.0 yards per carry. And Josh Rosen has shown great poise in hostile environments, throwing only seven interceptions in 380 pass attempts this year; none in the last four games. That’s bad news for Utah, a team that lives and dies by their ability to create turnovers. The 25 turnovers they’ve created through their first ten games ranks first among Power 5 conference schools. But make no mistake about it. The Utes are a fundamentally sound football team that lacks explosive offensive playmakers and elite level team speed. Even with Utah’s top RB Devonte Booker upgraded to probable for Saturday afternoon’s matchup in Salt Lake City, I can only recommend a college football pick on the more talented of these two teams here, taking the points with UCLA.

Free College Football Pick: Take the Bruins +2 at 5Dimes

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