Ducks -1.5 for College Football Picks in Oregon vs. UCLA

Willie Bee

Thursday, October 9, 2014 3:10 PM GMT

Oregon and UCLA are each coming off their first losses of the college football betting season as they prepare for a huge clash at the Rose Bowl this Saturday afternoon.

Among the things discussed in Monday's look at inflated odds for Week 7 was one ESPN blogger's opinion that the Pac-12 would be shut out of this year's college football playoffs. Maybe it's just because I'm an old fart and have learned over the years not to let emotions of an upset-filled Saturday like we just had lead to me having too much of a knee-jerk reaction, but count me among those who believes the Pac-12 is still in the picture.

In fact, count me among those who isn't expecting any team to go through the regular season undefeated, which definitely keeps any high-profile 1-loss team in the mix. It also means the upcoming collision between the Oregon Ducks and UCLA Bruins is something of a pre-playoff game after both took their first loss of the year a week ago to spoil what could have been a battle of unbeatens.

FOX begins coverage of the game at 3:30 PM (ET), and Oregon is a 1.5 to 2 point favorite after beginning at -3.5 on SBR's live college football odds. The total is 69 points.

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":356244, "sportsbooksIds":[19,43,227,1096,999996,93,238,123,139], "LineTypeId":5, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

Ducks Have Edge In Recent Years
If recent series history is any indication, it's Oregon that will survive while UCLA's promising season will be over for all intents and purposes. The Ducks have won the last four meetings, covering three of them along the way, including last year's get-together in Eugene where a big 4th-quarter helped the Quackers to a 42-14 decision.

Oregon has enjoyed the luxury of being at home for the last three matchups, but maybe that's payback for having to take on the Bruins in LA for three straight between 2001 and 2003. The Ducks won all three of those and four of the last five trips to UCLA's turf. The totals ended 'under' the mark in four of those games as well.

Can Mariota Move Ducks Early Against Bruins?
Here's another group you can count me among: People who expected Oregon to have a fairly easy time with Arizona. But it was obvious from the start of that game the Ducks were not going to have an easy evening. If you exclude their season opener vs. South Dakota, Mark Helfrich's team has been outscored 24-15 in the opening stanza, Marcus Mariota and Company blanked in the first quarter of two games.

Mariota's two fumbles weren't the only reason Oregon fell to the Wildcats, the biggest upset of last week, but they were costly. The junior QB is having a pretty good season overall, and he remains in the running for the Heisman Trophy with numbers like a 15:0 touchdown to interception ratio. What has failed the Ducks on offense is the line and backfield, Oregon blockers near the bottom of the country allowing 15 sacks.

Ducks & Bruins Each 1-4 Against The Spread
Seeing UCLA fall at home to Utah was just as shocking as Oregon losing to Arizona. Jim Mora's troops came out of the gate with three wins that were closer than expected, but seemed to finally put things together in the 62-27 laugher at Arizona State before the setback vs. the Utes. Just as Mariota's two fumbles proved big in the Ducks' defeat, Brett Hundley's interception, the only turnover in the game, cost the Bruins.

Neither team is reporting any new injuries for this week, nor should there be any issues with the weather; sunny skies and the mid-80s are the LA forecast for Saturday afternoon.

Both defenses will need strong games defending the pass, something both UCLA and Oregon have struggled with at times. What I think will be the difference, however, is whether or not the Ducks can get their ground game going against a Bruins bunch that wasn't able to stifle Utah's running game.

Both Oregon and UCLA have only beaten the spread once through their first five games, not lending much confidence in either side for this one. But you have to go back to '07 to find the last time the Ducks have lost two in a row, while '05 was the last year the Bruins didn't suffer at least a 2-game skid. My free college football pick quacks in this one.

My pick: Oregon -1.5
Season: 29-21-1 (+5.90)