The UCLA Bruins are off to a 1-6 ATS start and they may have their hands full as nearly two-touchdown favorites in the altitude of Colorado on Saturday.
The big home underdogs may hold value in high altitude on Saturday when the 25th ranked UCLA Bruins (5-2, 1-6 ATS) pay a visit to those Colorado Buffaloes (2-5, 3-4 ATS) at Folsom Field in Boulder, CO at 2:00 ET in a game available on the Pac-12 Network.
The posted line at Bet365 is Colorado +13½ for this contest at current odds of -110.
Just One Impressive Performance
Despite being nationally ranked and 5-2 straight up, the Bruins are just 1-6 ATS and have been surprisingly unimpressive given their preseason expectations, outside of the one cover on the road at Arizona State. Sure UCLA has played well in spurts, but besides the ASU game the Bruins have had a tough time piecing together complete performances from start to finish, and that makes it hard to give this many points with them on the road.
Colorado is a work-in-progress after joining the Pac-12 three years ago, and they seem to be progressing as college football picks under the direction of former San Jose State Coach Mike MacIntyre, who took over as the head man of the Buffaloes last year following a dismal 1-11 season under former coach Jon Embree in 2012, the worst season in the history of the school.
Barely Squeaked by Cal Last Week
UCLA was picked by many experts to win the Pac-12 this season, or at the very least win the South Division and give Oregon a stiff challenge in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Well, both of those scenarios are now in jeopardy after the Bruins lost back-to-back home games to Utah and Oregon prior to their visit to California last week, and they very nearly made it three straight losses before escaping with the 36-34 win thanks to intercepting an ill-advised pass late.
In fact, again besides the romp at Arizona State, the four other UCLA wins this season have all been by eight points or less, and some of those narrow victories did not exactly come vs. elite competition as the Bruins beat the likes of Memphis by seven points at home and Virginia by eight points on the road.
The problem for the Bruins is that their very experienced defense has actually taken a step back this season despite returning eight starters and being considered the backbone of not just the team’s Pac-12 hopes, but also its national title aspirations. Instead UCLA is ranked 86th in the country allowing 425.6 yards per game, ranking 105th in passing defense and 62nd in rushing defense.
Pesky Buffaloes at Home
Now granted Colorado comes off of an ugly 56-28 loss at USC this past Saturday, but the Buffaloes did go over 400 total yards of offense vs. a vey difficult opponent in enemy territory, meaning that they have now exceeded 400 yards in each of their last six games since failing to do so for the only time this season on opening week vs. Colorado State in Denver.
MacIntyre worked wonders with the San Jose offense in his time there, and he is bringing these Buffaloes along as after averaging a mere 302.2 yards in that 1-11 season in Embree’s final year, they improved to 4-8 while averaging 370.2 yards in MacIntyre’s first season last year and are now ranked 28th in the country in total offense this year with their 466.1 yards while averaging 31.1 points per game!
The newfound offensive success should continue vs. the struggling UCLA defense, and remember that while Colorado is 0-4 inside the Pac-12, it was competitive in every game before the USC blowout, covering the spread in a 38-24 loss to Arizona State, losing a wild 59-56 game on the road at California and falling just 36-31 to Oregon State here at home.
Covered at UCLA Last Season
As you might expect, UCLA feasted on the weaker Colorado teams under Embree in Colorado’s first two years in the conference, winning 45-6 in 2011 and 42-14 in 2012. However, the Buffaloes did cover the spread vs. the Bruins in a 45-23 loss at Los Angeles last season under MacIntyre and seem quite equipped offensively this year to cut that margin even more vs. a disappointing defense.
Thus, take the nearly two touchdowns with Colorado at home as the Buffaloes host UCLA on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Colorado +13½ (-110)