Houston Cougars vs. UCLA Bruins Preview and Pick – Point Spread – Betting Odds

No. 23 Houston Cougars (2-0 SU 1-0 ATS) vs. UCLA Bruins (0-2 0-2 ATS) Week 3 NCAA Football, Rose Bowl Pasadena, CA 10:30 PM EST Saturday September 18, 2010
by Jason Green of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Hou -3/University of California at Los Angeles +3
Over/Under: 63.5

This Saturday night in La La Land the UCLA Bruins host the 23rd ranked Houston Cougars. The Bruins had high expectations this season and many, including me, though they would be a dark horse pick to win the Pac 10, but they have got off to a tough start losing their first 2 games. In their defense they have not-played a cream puff early season schedule facing 3 ranked teams in their first 4 games including at 6th ranked Texas next week.

Houston is back in the top 25 and their offense is, once again, a dynamic one, but both of their first 2 games have not been against strong teams. Their scoring offense ranks 1st in the nation, as they have averaged 61 points per game in their 2 games.

The big question in this game for the Cougars is will QB Case Keenum play? The star QB was injured late in Houston’s last game and he is day-to-day. He has thrown for over 5,000 in each of the last 2 years and he will be missed if he can’t go.

UCLA is looking to avoid their first 0-3 start since 1971.

In last week’s games for both teams they could not have been any different, as Houston put the pedal to the metal and beat UTEP 54-24 while UCLA was shut out at home losing to Stanford 35-0.

Keenum, who has passed for 553 yards with 5 TD and 3 INT this season, leads Houston but if he can’t go against the Bruins Cotton Turner will get the start. Turner came in for Keenum in the UTEP game and looked solid going 9/10 for 69 yards with 1 TD. UCLA is hoping they face Turner rather than Keenum, but whomever they face they must not allow them to make big plays down the field.

The Cougars rank 23rd in the nation in rushing yards per game and their horse in the backfield is RB Bryce Beall, who has rushed for 243 yards and 5 TD this season and he is averaging just over 10 yards per carry.

The Bruins’ defense has had major problems stopping the run this season, as they gave up 313 rushing yards to Kansas State in their season opener and 211 rushing yards to Stanford last week. Yeah, that’s bad and unless they can contain Beall they will be in trouble.

QB Kevin Prince, who has struggled mightily so far this season and was even yanked in the Stanford game, but will get the start against Houston, leads UCLA’s offense. So far this season Prince only has 159 yards passing with 1 TD and 3 INT and he is only completing 39.5% of his passes.

The Bruins passing offense ranks 115th in the nation, but Prince will be facing a Houston defense that gave up 340 passing yards last week against UTEP. The main weakness of the Houston D is their secondary, so Prince will have a good game and he may have to if the Bruins’ defense continues to struggle.

Bruins’ RB Johnathan Franklin has been so-so this season with 133 yards rushing and he will be facing a mediocre Houston run defense that is improved over last season with the addition of DE Matangi Tonga, who transferred from BYU.

No matter who plays QB for Houston they will put up quite a few points, but so will the Bruins, who will snap out of their offensive slump in this game.

Houston is 4-0 ATS vs. a team with a losing record, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games, and the Over record is 5-0 in their last 5 games.

UCLA is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games, 2-6 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, and has an over record of 6-2 in their last 8 non-conference games.

Jason’s Pick to Beat the Spread: No matter who is under center for Houston in this game they will fare well against a weak Bruins’ defense. UCLA will play well on offense, but not well enough, as Houston will make up for their weak defense by lighting up the scoreboard, as they will win this game and cover the spread.