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Pick with Analysis
It's still early, but this game will probably have a say in who gets the better bowl game this year. Both teams are sitting at 5-2, although Arizona State has the better conference record at 3-1. The difference being that the Sun Devils won at California 27-17 while UCLA got killed in that same game, 43-17. The Bruins started the season hot, but are having trouble finding consistency each week. Arizona State reeled off three straight Pac 12 wins until Oregon came to town last Thursday.
UCLA was 8.5-point underdogs last year, yet managed to pull out a 29-28 win at the Rose Bowl. They'll need a similar performance if they want to win on the road as 6.5-point underdogs in most books. This year, each team looks a little different and that starts at the quarterback spot. Taylor Kelly has stepped up big for the Sun Devils with Brock Osweiler gone. Freshman Brett Hundley has had his fair share of ups and downs this season for the Bruins.
Hundley has been consistently accurate in every game, but he hasn't thrown for 300 yards in three weeks after hitting that mark three straight times. Excluding that California game when he threw four interceptions, he's been pretty good with the ball throwing 13 TDs to three INTs. Even in the loss against Oregon State, Hundley had 372 yards and no interceptions. Joseph Fauria is a beast in the red zone with five TDs and will need to be accounted for when the Bruins get down there. WR Shaquelle Evans has come on strong and cemented himself as Hundley's top target with 28 receptions. Running back Johnathan Franklin is what makes the UCLA offense go. He has 130 carries for 878 yards, although he's only found the end zone four times, and just once in his past six games.
The Sun Devils defense has been good as long as they aren't playing Oregon. Excluding that game, they haven't given up more than 17 points in three Pac 12 games. UCLA's defense hasn't been up to those standards as they allowed 43 to California, a team that scores 25 points per game.
Taylor Kelly and his offense should be able to find the end zone multiple times against the Bruins. Kelly has looked great tossing 15 TDs and only four INTs. Tight end Chris Coyle is his most popular target, but he still has five different receivers that have at least two touchdowns which shows he can spread the ball. Kelly can also get out of the pocket and run as he has 248 rushing yards on the year. Arizona State has three RBs that have all been able to do the job. They've combined for 856 yards and 12 touchdowns.
AZ State is a solid 5-2 ATS this year while UCLA has only covered once in their last four games. In addition, the Bruins are 4-11 ATS in their last 15 road games and 2-14 ATS in their last 16 October games. The under is 4-1 for both teams in their last five games. In this meeting, the home team has covered five straight times, but the Bruins are 7-2 ATS in the last nine games.
We anticipated a much better effort from Arizona State last week. Perhaps Oregon really is that good. Or, perhaps the Sun Devils aren't as good as we thought. We'll learn more Saturday. Both of these teams whipped Colorado, but against two other common opponents, Utah and Cal, Arizona State was able to win comfortably while UCLA struggled. They lost straight up to Cal 43-17 and just got by Utah by 7. As a result, our model shows a 14 point Arizona State win this week. We'll go with the Sun Devils to bounce back in a big way. Arizona State -6.5
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