UCLA Bruins (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Stanford Cardinal (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date/Time: Saturday, September 23, 2017 at 10:30PM EST
Where: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UCLA +8/STAN -8
Over/Under Total: 62.5
The UCLA Bruins venture up north for an in-state Pac-12 Conference matchup against the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday. For UCLA, it is their Pac-12 opener and they could use a win after being upset by Memphis in a thriller last Saturday, 48-45. Stanford didnt fare much better on Saturday, losing to San Diego State in a draining road loss, 20-17. Both teams have only covered the spread once in three attempts this season. Who can get the win and cover on Saturday?
UCLA is coming off an awful 4-8 season last year and after going to 2-0 to start this season, they got in the rankings, only to lose to Memphis. The season opened with a heart-stopping comeback win over Texas A&M, followed by a through beating of Hawaii. Memphis proved their match and the fourth quarter dramatics they were able to get in week one werent there for the Bruins. Still, with this being the start of conference play, a lot of good things are still on the table for the Bruins this season.
Through three games, the Bruins have scored 146 points. Quarterback Josh Rosen has thrown for 1283 yards, including 464 yards and 4 touchdowns against Memphis. WR Darren Andrews continues to be big and had 175 yards on ten catches with a TD on Saturday. Pass-catchers Jordan Lasley and Jalen Starks also had nice production. They finally got some positivity generated in the running-game with Bolo Olorunfunmi running for 77 yards and the team posting 170 rushing yards. Alas, it wasnt all glitter for the Bruins offense on Saturday. Rosen threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, while throwing another one that proved to be very costly.
The UCLA defense has been a roadblock at times this season. Memphis is one of those under-the-radar teams that can have a big offensive day with a lot of opposing defenses. Still, there was any number of times when the defense could have come up with a big stop and they seldom did against the Tigers. The defense gave up 560 yards on the day. They didnt apply nearly enough pressure and at times, theyre just going to have to deal with the fact that this unit will be exploited from time to time.
It would be easy for bettors and maybe even opponents to get the wrong idea about the Cardinal if they focus too much on their 1-2 record through 3 games. After a massive beating of Rice, 62-7, they have now dropped consecutive games against USC and less forgivably, to the San Diego State Aztecs. Granted, this isnt a vintage Stanford team. But those thinking they arent a good team might not be on the right track. USC is one of the nations top teams and they gave them a run for their money for much of the game. Losing on the road to Aztecs doesnt reflect on them well perhaps, but San Diego State is actually pretty good and that can be a tough road spot for non-conference teams. After losing two straight road games in a row, look for them to enjoy being back home for this one.
The void left by Christian McCaffrey on this Stanford offense is big, but through three games, Bryce Love has been really good, rushing for 524 yards. He had 184 yards and two touchdowns against San Diego St. The issue is everyone else around him. Keller Chryst at quarterback is still a work-in-progress and threw two interceptions on Saturday, while also losing a fumble. They have a pretty young pass-catching corps that could get better over time this season, but the offense is a bit one-dimensional through three games.
The Stanford defense hasnt really shined in the last two weeks. And its a bad sign how they faded late in both games. Against Southern Cal, a close and well-contested game was busted open in the second half with the Cardinal D losing its resolve. Then this past Saturday with under a minute left in the game and clinging to a 4-point lead, the Cardinal gave up the go-ahead touchdown. A little more resoluteness would go a long way for this group. Even so, there are some guys on this side of the ball who can bring it, such as Harrison Phillips, one of the best interior lineman in the nation. Peter Kalambayi isnt a picnic for anybody at linebacker. In the secondary, Quinton Meeks, Justin Reid, Malik Antoine, and Alijah Holder are pretty serviceable and were very good on Saturdayright up until the very end.
Stanford is hoping for better luck at home in NorCal after considerable trouble in two weeks in SoCal, first in LA then in San Diego. This game has to mean a lot to them, as a 1-3 start to the season would be really bad for morale. Theyre not the only ones in this game with an agenda, as everyone has a storyline. And UCLAs is that after a good start, two straight losses would be a deflating development. A salient case can be made for either side of the straight bet in this game. UCLAs better offensive pop could give them the edge, while Stanfords better balance could shift things in their favor. What I envision is both offenses having their share of success, with the Bruins doing enough to get the cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the UCLA Bruins plus 8 points. - Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at a sportsbook where it WILL work for deposits and take advantage of their 100% signup bonus on your first deposit up to $100! (Example: Deposit $100 and they’ll give you an extra $100 FREE!) Find this great offer at Intertops Sportsbook.