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Title Game Prediction
After dominating at the Rose Bowl last weekend, Stanford comes into the Pac 12 Championship game as 8.5-point favorites, down from an opener of -10.5 at 5 Dimes. It'll be interesting to see what adjustments UCLA will be able to make as they are now playing on the road where things haven't been easy for them. In previous road matches, they lost to California by 26 points back in October and barely got by Arizona State and Washington State. As for the Cardinal, they have yet to lose while playing at home this season.
In last weekend's game, Stanford bullied UCLA all over the field as Stepfan Taylor ran loose for 142 yards and a 7.1 yards per carry average to go with two touchdowns. Stanford rushed for 221 yards as a team. Taylor notched his eighth 100-yard rushing game of the season and has hit 1,000 yards in his past three seasons at Stanford. Because of the run game being so successful, Kevin Hogan wasn't asked to do much in the passing game. He completed 15 of 22 passes and had one TD. The Bruins defense didn't really have any answers for the Cardinal offense.
The other side of the ball was much of the same as Johnathan Franklin could not get anything going. He finished with only 65 yards on 21 carries. That's saying something from a back that has 1,506 rushing yards all year. A lot of UCLA's offense comes from Franklin and the ground game and they'll need to get it working if they want to stay close in this game. Brett Hundley had 261 passing yards, but completed only 20 of his 38 pass attempts. He managed one TD and one interception. Joseph Fauria grabbed another TD and now has scored in nine of 12 games this year. While he's a huge red zone threat, he has never had more than five catches in a game. It might be time to incorporate him more in the passing game. No matter, if the Bruins can't find room to run again, it could end up being another long night for them.
Stanford is on a current streak of six straight wins with their last three coming against ranked opponents. UCLA had a nice five-game win streak of their own before last week, but most of their weaknesses were exploited in that loss.
The Bruins are actually 6-1 ATS in their last seven games following a ATS loss, so the UCLA backers will look to that stat and hope Jim Mora has something up his sleeve. However, UCLA is also 5-12 ATS in their last 17 road games. The Cardinal are 4-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and are 5-1 ATS in their last six home games vs. a team with a winning road record. Not to mention, Stanford is also a solid 21-5-1 ATS in their last 27 games following a ATS win. UCLA is just 1-6 ATS in their last seven meetings played in Stanford.
Handicapping a college football game where two teams that played last week, play again in the current week, is no easy task. It's also very rare. In this case, you have to take into account the fact that UCLA had already notched their spot in the PAC-12 Title game. It's safe to say they were just going through the motions for the most part. They weren't as aggressive defensively and had a conservative approach to the game in general. We'll see a different UCLA team this week, but will it be enough?
Our model likes Stanford by 10 or so, but we're going to go against our model here. These two teams have beaten all of the same teams with the exception of Cal, who UCLA lost to and their numbers aren't to far off from each other (Stanford's are better). It would have been nice to grab the +10 here, but there's likely still some value left in this one at anything over a touchdown. So we'll go ahead and grab the +8.5 in what should be a much closer, much better game than last week. UCLA +8.5
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