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UCLA vs. Arizona Thursday Night Football Pick

10/20/11

Arizona will host UCLA in Thursday Night and despite the firing of their head coach, Mike Stoops, they are still listed as a -3 point favorite over the Bruins. College Football handicapping tends to throw all kinds of money wrenches at you during the course of the year. One of the toughest to deal with, as a handicapper, is the loss of a coach at the midway point.

Perhaps Arizona should take note of what some of the nations top teams are up to each year when it comes to scheduling. So many of the top programs out there start their year with 2, 3 or even 4 cupcake games year after year. They start out 3-0 or 4-0, beating the cupcakes by 40+ points per game while landing themselves in the top 10 which brings all kinds of recognition to the program whether they deserve it or not. Meanwhile, Arizona plays 3 top 10 teams in a row followed by USC and Oregon State, all the while suffering injuries that impact future games. There's something that's just not right about that and as a result, you have to feel for a guy like Mike Stoops.

It is what  it is. Stoops is gone and now they have to play out the rest of their season. We had played Arizona in their game against Oregon State before their bye week, the feeling being that after playing the powerhouses, they would find the Beavers more to their liking. But, that wasn't to be either as they lost that one as well, 37-27. But we're going to come right back and use that logic once again, this time in a home game.

Look, when you break this game down statistically, you have a matchup between two pretty bad teams. UCLA is in a much better state of mind, at 3-3 and still with a chance to do something with their season. But their wins have come against Washington State, Oregon State and San Jose. In their losses they have given up 38, 49 and 45 points and for their opponent here, Arizona, offense has not been a problem.

We're going to keep coming back to the schedule strength argument here because it's so drastic. You could put a lot of teams in the shoes of the Arizona Wildcats and the results would have been the same. You have to feel that at some point, the very capable Nick Foles led offense is going to explode and the Wildcats are going to take all of their frustrations out on whichever team they happen to be playing. By all accounts Stoops was well liked by his players. This is his team, players he recruited, so perhaps a "Win one for the Gipper" speech is in order here from interim coach  Tim Kish, the defensive coordinator under Stoops.

No better time than in a Prime Time affair - Arizona -3

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