UCLA Bruins (3-0 SU, 0-3 ATS) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (3-0 SU, 1-2 ATS)
College Football Week 5
Date and Time: Thursday, September 25, 10:00pm EST
Where: Sun Devil Stadium – Tempe, AZ
TV: Fox Sports 1
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UCLA -5/ASU +5
Over/Under Total: OFF
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This Thursday night, we have a hidden gem in the college football line up. The 11th ranked UCLA Bruins will travel to Tempe, Arizona to take on the 15th ranked Arizona State Sun Devils. Not only does this game have Pac-12 conference championship implications, but it could give the winning team a boost to get into the very first college football playoff Final Four. Both teams come into this game at 3-0. Many of us figured that UCLA was going to make a run this year for some titles, but the Arizona State team has been a tad bit of a surprise so far. The line opens with the Sun Devils as five point home underdogs, and as I write this, there has not yet been a total set on the points just yet. Arizona State will be without their starting QB, and UCLA is due for a big game from Brett Hundley, but lets take a closer look at this match-up. On paper, UCLA should win this game easily, but if we have not learned by now, we never will….nothing is guaranteed!
The UCLA Bruins come into this game at 3-0 and I actually had them as one of my final four teams this year. After watching them so far, I want to go back on that because I have not been overly impressed with what I thought was going to be an offensive juggernaut. They scraped by an average Virginia team in a game when the defense had to score three touchdowns to get the win. After the near disaster over Virginia, UCLA went on to beat Memphis by only a touchdown, then beat a bad Texas Longhorns team 20-17. I am not impressed, but regardless of how, the Bruins sit undefeated and have a chance Thursday night to not only get a win over a top 15 team, but get their first Pac 12 victory of the season. Coming into 2014, I really thought this UCLA offense was going to be nasty. I had Brett Hundley as one of my top five Heisman hopefuls, and I thought Jim Mora was going to make a case for Coach Of The Year. Statistically speaking, this UCLA team should not be unbeaten, but somehow they are. The Bruins rank 73rd in the nation in rushing yards, and do not even crack the top 30 in passing offense. On the defensive side of the ball, they are not much better. They rank 60th in the nation in points allowed, and as I pointed out, they have not even played the heart of their schedule yet. Many people are down on UCLA, just like I am, but a convincing win on the road over a ranked team could change that, however a loss to a team that has not really played anyone, could make the Bruins drop way down in the polls, if not out of the top 25 all together. The key for this game is for the UCLA offense to get going. They need a good effort and they must put up points. The worst thing that could happen for UCLA on the road is to make the home crown and home team think they have a shot. The Bruins need to score early and put this game away quickly. If we have a one score game headed to the 4th quarter, I am afraid the Bruins will drop to 0-1 in the Pac-12.
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The Arizona State Sun Devils are ranked in the top 15 and have upset on their mind when the Bruins come into town. Just like UCLA, the Arizona State has not played any great competition, the only difference though is the fact that the Devils are putting people away. ASU is averaging 47 points a game which ranks them 7th in the FBS for points scored. Not only are they scoring, but ASU can flat run the ball. Ranking 12th in the FBS, the Sun Devils rushing game is led by junior, DJ Foster, who already has over 500 yards on the ground to go along with five touchdowns. Quarterback, Taylor Kelly was doing a good job managing the team with six touchdown passes and no interceptions, but due to injury, he has been ruled out against UCLA. The Bruins will have to rely on backup QB, Mike Bercovici. Bercovici has thrown just 9 passes this season for 17 yards and a TD pass, but the Sun Devil coaching staff has confidence that he step in and lead the way for a home win. The crowd will be behind him so confidence should not be an issue against the UCLA defense. The key to winning this game for ASU is that they need to score, score, score. UCLA is due for a breakout game, but if Arizona State’s offense can prove they are just as explosive, and get the crowd into this game, I think the Sun Devils can pull this game off. UCLA has not had an impressive performance yet, and this will be their first true test. If ASU jumps up early, the Bruins could possibly fold.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Night game, home underdog…that is usually a recipe for a great match-up. I am actually excited to watch this game because you don’t normally get good quality games like this on Thursday night. Arizona State enters as a five point home underdog. A lot of that is not just because on paper, UCLA is the more talented team, but ASU is without their QB. I think a lot of people are pouding UCLA for that very reason. I am telling you now… Arizona State not only covers this spread, they win the game. Look for an upset and look for UCLA to drop in the polls and go 0-1 in the Pac-12. I don’t know why I feel so strongly about this, but I just have this gut feeling Arizona State pulls the upset at home. Not only do I just have “that feeling,” I will not pick UCLA to cover a spread, until they actually cover a spread. Look for a 26-23 Arizona State victory. Also, look for the Sun Devils to crack the nation’s top ten next week. PICK THE ARIZONA STATE SUNDEVILS +5 POINTS!!!!!!!