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College Football Pick
Remember the last time UCLA had a better record than USC? No? Well, not many people do. UCLA is one season removed from a 6-8 campaign in which they lost to the Trojans 50-0. This time around, things will be different. USC is sitting as only four-point favorites at 5 Dimes sportsbook and betonline, the smallest margin for them in the past 10 meetings against the Bruins. UCLA is no joke, either. A couple weeks ago they took out Arizona 66-10, the same school that USC lost to 39-36.
USC, a public favorite, is currently drawing a whopping 89% of the action at the world largest sportsbook, sportsbook.ag.
UCLA doesn't win often again the Trojans. The last time they were able to do that was in 2006 at the Rose Bowl. In last year's game, the Bruins had no answer for Matt Barkley who had a field day with 423 yards and six touchdowns. This year, their defense is better and they have a better offense.
Freshman quarterback Brett Hundley is at the head of the revival. In his first season, he's doing exceptionally well completing 69 percent of his passes for 24 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. His ability to move out of the pocket has been key to his success as he also has 272 rushing yards. In his last four games, Hundley has 11 TDs compared to just two INTs. His progression is evident and he'll be a handful for USC's defense all day. Watch out for red zone target Joseph Fauria who has nine TDs on the year and four in his last three games. He has a similar build to his uncle Christian Fauria, former NFL tight end. Not only are the Bruins improved in the passing game, but rushing the ball as well. Senior running back Johnathan Franklin is quietly having a great season. With 1,270 rushing yards, 6.4 yards per carry and 276 yards through the air, he's one of the top RBs in the country.
USC is having a disappointing year, already with three losses. This can be attributed to not enough offense and a poor defense. They'll need to figure out a way to stop the Bruins from scoring or this game will come down to the wire much like the Arizona game a few weeks ago.
Barkley is having a good season, but they aren't good enough by his standards. Sure, his 33 touchdowns look nice, but he's also on pace for the most interceptions of his college career. He has thrown seven interceptions in his last three games. Those numbers don't bring wins very often. Marqise Lee had 224 yards last year against UCLA and will most likely be close to that total again in this game. USC actually used him in the running game last weekend due to Silas Redd being out, and it worked with him getting 66 yards on six carries. Redd's status is still currently up in the air, but Curtis McNeal filled in well for him totaling 163 yards and two TDs on 31 carries.
The Trojans are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games overall and 0-5 ATS in their last five road games. On the other side of that, the Bruins are 6-2 ATS in their last eight home games and 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The over is 5-2 in USC's last seven road games and 4-1 in the Bruins last five games overall. However, in this meeting the under has hit four straight times in UCLA and six straight times overall. The home team is 7-2 ATS in the last nine contests between these schools.
USC has won 4 of the last 5 in this series and 12 of the last 13. Most of those by large margins. When a team that has been dominated by another is able to close the talent gap, especially in a rivalry game, they have to take advantage of the situation. It goes way beyond the players on the field. UCLA has closed the gap and wants this game badly.
Our model has this as a 3 point USC win when using season to date data. When we look at the yards per point numbers for these two, we see numbers that are pretty much dead even. Considering their schedule strength is also just about dead even, you can use those numbers to determine that this game is essentially a toss up. Roll it all together and you have a pick em game where you're getting +4 with the home team that's also got a huge revenge motive and a potential birth in the Pac 12 title game and there's only one way to look. UCLA +4
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