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Free College Football Pick
If Stanford can grab their sixth straight win, these teams will face off again in the Pac 12 Championship game. UCLA already has its ticket booked after beating USC last weekend and sit a full game ahead of the Trojans in conference play. With Stanford's win at Oregon last weekend, the Cardinal now have the tiebreaker over the Ducks, but a loss could cost them the division if Oregon takes care of business at Oregon State.
Both schools are playing better than expected coming off huge wins as underdogs and riding five-game winning streaks. Stanford controlled last year's game 45-19, led by Andrew Luck and his three touchdowns. It's hard to look at that game as each team has different quarterbacks and the Bruins have a new coach. However, two mainstays are running backs Stepfan Taylor and Johnathan Franklin who both had solid games in 2011. Taylor went for 112 yards and two TDs while Franklin had 96 yards on only 12 carries. The Cardinal are slight road favorites, but UCLA has been playing incredible as of late at the Rose Bowl.
In what has been somewhat of a revival to Stanford's offense, freshman Kevin Hogan took over under center three games ago and hasn't looked back. Hogan has beaten Oregon State and Oregon in his last two games. He's been more accurate than former starter Josh Nunes and throwing fewer interceptions per attempts. Tight end Zach Ertz has been huge for Hogan, especially in the last game at Oregon where he grabbed 11 passes for 106 yards and a TD, a game ball worthy effort. Even with the revived passing game, Taylor is still running well between the tackles going for 275 yards in his last two games. Expect another heavy dose from the senior as the Cardinal would like to keep the ball out of the hands of Brett Hundley and UCLA.
The Bruins have scored over 38 points in four straight games. On the other hand, Stanford hasn't allowed more than 23 points in six straight games, including just 14 to Oregon last weekend. The question is does Stanford still have gas in the tank after upsetting the Ducks?
Maybe UCLA doesn't have the explosiveness of Oregon, but they do have what it takes to move the ball quickly. Hundley has been huge in his first season for the Bruins. He's completing close to 70 percent of his passes to go with 25 TDs and eight interceptions, not to mention eight rushing TDs, as well. Joseph Fauria continues to be a defensive nightmare for opposing defenses in the red zone. He has 10 touchdowns on the year and has scored in four straight games. Franklin has been solid all season with 1,441 rushing yards and 12 total TDs. Throw in 290 receiving yards and he's one of the best in the business. Franklin has hit 160 rushing yards in three of his past four games.
The Cardinal are 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine road games vs. a team with a winning home record while the Bruins are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 home games vs. a team with a winning road record. Something will have to break in this one. The favorite has covered in five of the past six meetings between these schools. The home team is 7-2 ATS in their last nine meetings and Stanford is 10-4 ATS in their last 14. The under has hit five straight times for Stanford on the road while the over has hit four straight times for UCLA in all games. The under has hit five straight times in the last five meetings between these schools at the Rose Bowl.
Hats off to Stanford. Everyone thought this team would fold without Andrew Luck. They've done nothing but win. They have beaten Oregon, Oregon State and USC and lost to Notre Dame on the road by a TD. More impressive than UCLA who lost to Oregon State and Cal, though the Bruins did beat Nebraska and USC.
On paper, this one breaks down dead even. There's two concerns, one for each team. For UCLA, there's no motivation other than revenge. They have their spot in the title game wrapped up. But they were hammered by Stanford the past two years and Revenge can be a huge motivator. For Stanford, they'd like to win and get a chance at a rematch next week in the title game. But you have to be concerned about the Cardinal and the potential to come out flat after such an emotional win last week.
We'll take our chances with Stanford. They have the better wins this year and perhaps the added incentive with more on the line than UCLA. Stanford -1.5
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