Pick – Analysis
The matchup between these two teams last year was a bit of a coming out party for the Jim Mora-led UCLA football team. The Bruins had high hopes going into the 2012 season, but no one knew how serious to take them until they went out and beat No. 16 ranked Nebraska in their second Game. Guess what, they were for real and still are. And now for the rematch, but this time it’s in Lincoln, Nebraska.
As expected, both squads are undefeated entering this Game, but maybe not in convincing fashion. The Cornhuskers barely held on against Wyoming in their first Game of the season, winning by only three points (NEB opened as 31-point favorites). They looked a little better last weekend, but it was against Southern Miss, who didn’t win a Game last year. The Bruins impressed a little more in their opener, beating a Nevada squad 58-20, a Game in which they were only 20-point favorites.
In this year’s matchup, expect plenty of points and a great Game. Nebraska is a tough team to beat at home. They are currently a -4.5 point favorites at the largest sportsbook in the world, 5dimes.com
Both teams have a lot of returning players, including their quarterbacks. Taylor Martinez is a Four-year starter for the Huskers and will be a handful for everyone he faces this year. against UCLA last year, Martinez only threw for 179 yards, but he ran for 112, including a 92-yard touchdown scamper. Martinez has looked better throwing the ball this year — albeit against lesser defenses — completing 71 percent of his passes for six touchdowns. Surprisingly, he has zero TDs on the ground. Joining him in the backfield is Ameer Abdullah, who already has 228 yards and two TDs this year. against the Bruins in 2012, Abullah carved them with 119 yards for two TDs on only 16 carries.
UCLA got a good look at a run-heavy team in the first week against QB Cody Fajardo and the Wolf Pack and it did pretty well. While Fajardo ran for 106 yards, Nevada only scored 20 points, and just seven in the second half.
As for the Bruins’ offense, Brett Hundley is in his second year and like Martinez, looks like a better passer compared to last season. Hundley (305 yards, Four TDs) and running back Johnathan Franklin (276 total yards) were huge in last year’s matchup, but Franklin is gone. Taking his spot is Jordon James, who ran for 155 yards and a touchdown in his first Game. Hundley also has a slew of wide receivers to help, including NFL prospect Shaquelle Evans.
The Cornhuskers’ defense hasn’t looked overly great in 2013, allowing Wyoming’s QB to go for 383 yards and Four TDs, and that will have to change if they want to win this Game. There will be points and it will be close, so have fun with it.
UCLA is 4-1 ATS in its last five non-Conference Games, while Nebraska is 7-2-1 ATS in its last 10 home Games, but only 1-4 ATS in its last five Games overall. Due to their offenses, everything points to the over. The over is 7-1 in the Bruins last eight Games overall and 4-0 in their last road Games. For the Cornhuskers, the over has hit in Four straight Games for them.
In what has the potential to be a back and forth Game, we’ll take any points available. UCLA +4