College Football Pick
One of these teams has its eye on the Pac-12 South title and at the beginning of the season, if you said Colorado, no one would’ve believed you. But, that’s where we’re at with the Buffaloes 4-1 in Conference play and UCLA at 1-4.
This season has been a mess for the Bruins and it kind of culminated in their last Game against Utah. They got a quality start from backup quarterback Mike Fafaul, but they gave up 52 points and 360 rushing yards to a mediocre Utah offense. Fafaul was fine, he threw for 464 yards and five touchdowns, but Four interceptions aren’t going to win many Games.
The problem got bigger last week when Josh Rosen was declared out indefinitely due to a shoulder injury. With Fafaul slated to start again, Colorado is looking at another Conference win. The issue with not having Rosen at quarterback is that the Bruins have been terrible rushing the ball this year, averaging 2.8 yards per carry and their top back at just 206 yards. Even coming off a week of rest, there’s no reason to believe this ground attack will be better against the Buffs.
And the Buffs are for real. They’ve given Michigan one of their harder tests of the season and could’ve had the win if it wasn’t for Sefo Liufau getting hurt. In Pac-12 play, it’s been the same, winning at Oregon, competing at USC and recently scraping by at Stanford. More importantly, Colorado is still undefeated against the spread this season.
Part of their success is that they can win in a number of ways, the Game at Stanford showed that. Liufau is an underrated quarterback with zero interceptions on the year, but he’s oft-injured. And when needed, they can churn out yards on the ground through Phillip Lindsay, who has 350 yards and three touchdowns in the last two Games.
And with how the Bruins have looked defensively, it’s a wonder what they’ll be able to do in this Game. One thing going for them is that they continue to keep Games close, whether high scoring or low scoring. In their last two road losses, they lost by a combined nine points at Arizona State and Washington State. Will that trend continue against a Colorado team that has won its two home Conference Games by a combined 87-22 total?
Fafaul is the biggest issue for the Bruins offense because he’s at a level below Rosen. In three Games, Fafaul already has eight interceptions and if he turns it over at all in this Game, it’ll be tough for UCLA to come back from that. There’s no reason the Buffaloes can’t run through this Bruins defense like Utah did. Maybe to a lesser extent, but if Liufau is asked to step up, he can do so as well. Liufau’s best stat of the season is when he threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns before getting hurt at Michigan.
Our Pick – With the Bruins season hanging on by a thread, and still needing 3 more wins to qualify for a Bowl Game, we’d expect a huge effort here. Sure, Colorado has lost 5 straight in this series and would love to win in blowout fashion but the feeling here is that UCLA, even with Fafaul at QB, can put points on the board making them a live dog. Last two Games in series were decided by 3. UCLA +12