Pick – Analysis
This just might be UCLA’s year to win the Pac-12, but even with Oregon struggling, it won’t be easy. Arizona State is in a bit of a different situation with a 2-2 record, coming off a big home loss to USC last weekend. The Bruins are getting a lot of love at 4-0 and are a -13.5 home favorite in this contest (at 5 Dimes Sportsbook).
UCLA had a monstrous win last weekend at Arizona, winning 56-30 as a one-point favorite, and did so without stud linebacker Myles Jack, who’s out for the season. The Bruins look for real, but must keep this momentum going forward, not only in this Game, but in road Games at Stanford, Utah and USC that filter their Schedule.
Things haven’t gone quite as well for the Sun Devils who have still yet to cover in a Game this year after getting pounced 42-14 (+4 point underdog) by USC this past weekend. Their offense has taken a step back this year with Mike Bercovici at quarterback and the defense still isn’t an elite unit to lead the team. To compete in the Pac-12, if your defense isn’t good enough, you need a high-flying offense to win Games, and so far ASU hasn’t had one.
Bercovici hasn’t been terrible, but he hasn’t been good enough to beat better opponents. He is completing 59.2% of his passes for seven touchdowns and two interceptions, but most of those numbers have come against weaker non-Conference foes. against Texas A&M and USC, Bercovici has just one touchdown, which isn’t going to cut it, no matter how good their ground Game is. Dermario Richard (429 rushing yards, 4 TDs) has been good, but when their defense isn’t stopping opposing foes, that isn’t enough. Richard went for 131 yards and two TDs on only 14 carries against USC, but a quick deficit stopped ASU’s opportunity of running the ball much.
If their defense can’t stop Josh Rosen and company, it could be more of the same thing and the Bruins are coming off a 56-point effort against Arizona.
Freshman QB Josh Rosen has maybe been a little inconsistent in the early season, but when he does get going, there aren’t many teams that can beat UCLA. Rosen has looked like a stud against Virginia and Arizona (5 TDs, 0 INTs), but struggled in the two Games between. And even when he struggles, the weapons will always be there for him. Paul Perkins (514 yards, 6 TDs) hasn’t really been stopped yet and even though he averaged 3.5 yards against the Wildcats, Rosen came through in the air. UCLA has a top group of receivers led by Jordan Payton (319 yards) and Thomas Duarte (173 yards).
To cover in this Game, Arizona State will need to play better offensively because it’s unlikely the defense will stop Rosen and Perkins from scoring less than 30 points. If UCLA gets out to a quick lead, it could be trouble again for the Sun Devils because Bercovici is still a level below what Taylor Kelly brought to the table in 2014.
The over has hit in the last five meetings between these teams while the Bruins are 9-3 ATS in the last 12 meetings and 5-1 ATS in the last six matchups at Rose Bowl Stadium.
Our Pick – 73% of the wagers taken on this Game have come in on the Bruins. No surprise there. In fact, Our numbers agree with the public in this spot and say lay the double digits.
That being said, we’d advise treading lightly here. We don’t feel Arizona State is as bad as their 42-14 whooping by USC would lead people to believe. Sometimes, the best time to jump ON a team is when no one else wants them. That’s what we’ll do here. Watch the board and hold out for +14 if possible. Arizona State +14