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Bruins vs. Oregon Ducks Pick.
UCLA Bruins (6-6 SU, 4-8 ATS) vs. Oregon Ducks (10-2 SU, 6-4-2 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, College Football Week 14, Friday, December 2, 2011, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon, TV: Fox
by Scotty L, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: University of California Los Angeles +31.5/U of O -31.5
Over/Under Total: 65.5
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The UCLA Bruins travel up north to take on the Oregon Ducks on Friday in the Pac-12 Conference Championship. Somehow, at 6-6, the Bruins managed to win the Pac-12 South division, setting them up for what appears to be an impending slaughter at the hands of the high-powered Ducks. As 31.5-point underdogs, the Bruins role in this championship game is considered to be that of a sacrificial lamb.
And for good reason. In losing 50-0 to crosstown rivals USC on Saturday, the Bruins looked like a high school team. Sure, the Trojans are peaking. They nearly beat Stanford, then proceeded to beat Oregon a few weeks later. UCLA figured to be out of their element, but to put up a goose egg and get slaughtered, without any sense of urgency to beat a longtime rival was gravely disappointing.
In an effort to find some silver lining, the Bruins had this game locked up before kickoff in the Trojans game. When a team stands to gain zero ground in a game and their destiny is already locked-in, it can result in a flat performance. But 50-0? And its not as if the Bruins were doing that well before that, either. A few weeks before getting lambasted by USC, they were roughed up by a mediocre Utah, 31-6. They also got ripped 48-12 by a bad Arizona team. Stanford also whipped them, 45-19. Last year, Oregon ran away with the game, beating the Bruins, 60-13.
UCLA winning the Pac-12 South should be taken with a grain of salt. They needed a lot of luck to even get in that spot, with a weak division and USC sanctioned from post-season play this season. The fact is that this is a struggling program. In 4 years, Neuheisel is only 21-28. More troubling is that the Bruins are only 3-25 against winning teams during that stretch. Ouch.
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Against a team not known for going easy on overmatched opponents, the Bruins will be in a tough spot on Friday in Eugene. The Ducks may have been disappointing this year with two losses, but they are still number-seven in the nation and a handful for any team. LSU beat them in week one and the Trojans upset them a few weeks ago. So while they didnt quite make it to their goal of a national championship game, they still had a good season.
The Ducks are looking to make a pre-bowl statement here and with a lengthy break coming after this game, one should look for them to turn it loose a bit. Great Ducks RB LaMichael James is dinged up with a hurt elbow, but he should be close to full-power. With underrated Ducks QB Darron Thomas rolling, look for him to to get full use from his many playmakers on Friday.
31.5 is a gigantic point-spread. Oregon has given up 31 to Arizona, 27 to Arizona State, 28 to Washington State, and 21 to Oregon State last week. A similar defensive performance against the Bruins would force the Ducks to put up a huge number in order to cover the spread. After all, the Bruins were 3-1 against those 4 teams, so on paper, they could have similar results. Then again, the Bruins are not exactly flying high at the moment.
Scotty Ls Pick: Sometimes it seems to easy. You see the Bruins getting killed last week, 50-0, and the mind projects how badly they will lose to an Oregon team with whom they might even match up worse. But as we all know, its never that simple. Ducks players are looking to have a big game, but their situation is more or less locked-in. In addition, the mind doesnt produce much of a sense of urgency when playing a team coming off a 50-0 loss.
The Bruins are not much of a team, but with an opportunity to atone for a string of disappointments this season, look for Neuheisel and his players to summon a decent effort. A few touchdowns could be all that it takes to get a cover. Take the UCLA Bruins plus 31.5 points.
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