Utah at UCLA PAC-12 Football Free Pick -10-8

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utah at ucla cfb pick ats
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Utah visits UCLA this Saturday in a marquee PAC-12 matchup. UCLA comes in undefeated at 5-0 and has it’s fan base excited. The Utes are 4-1 and will no doubt be the toughest test to date for the Bruins. Utah opened as a -3 point favorite and has been bet up toas high as -4.5. The total is 65.

Head to Head

10/30/2021  UCLA                     24  + 7.0  at Utah                     44
11/16/2019  UCLA                      3  +21.5  at Utah                     49
10/26/2018  Utah                     41  -10.5  at UCLA                     10
11/ 3/2017  UCLA                     17  + 7.0  at Utah                     48
10/22/2016  Utah                     52  + 7.0  at UCLA                     45
11/21/2015  UCLA                     17  + 2.0  at Utah                      9
10/ 4/2014  Utah                     30  +13.0  at UCLA                     28
10/ 3/2013  UCLA                     34  - 5.5  at Utah                     27
10/13/2012  Utah                     14  + 9.0  at UCLA                     21
11/12/2011  UCLA                      6  + 7.0  at Utah                     31
 9/15/2007  UCLA                      6  -10.0  at Utah                     44
 9/ 2/2006  Utah                     10  + 3.0  at UCLA                     31
  
   average outcome:
     Utah                    33.3  UCLA                    20.2
     margin = -13.08
  
   time-weighted average outcome:
     Utah                    41.6  UCLA                    19.0
     margin = -22.66
  
   average result when the home team is UCLA                   
     Utah                    29.4  UCLA                    27.0
     margin =  -2.40
  
   average result when the home team is Utah                   
     UCLA                    15.3  Utah                    36.0
     margin =  20.71
  
    33.33 % of games went Over
    20.00 % went Over at UCLA                   
  
   average total points per game =  53.42
   time-weighted average total   =  60.60
  
   the home team covered  50.00 % of the time
   the road team covered  50.00 % of the time
   Ave ATS differential =  6.88
  
   the favorite  covered  58.33 % of the time
   the underdog  covered  41.67 % of the time
   Ave ATS differential =  2.54
  
   the favorite won SU    66.67 % of the time
  
   Utah                    covered  75.00 % of the time
   UCLA                    covered  25.00 % of the time
  
   UCLA                    covered  20.00 % of the time at home
   UCLA                    covered   0.00 % of the time as home underdogs

The recent history shows Utah has dominated. They’ve won by an average margin of 33-20 which is pretty close to our models prediction of 36-19. Though the games played at UCLA have been closer.

One of the first thing handicappers look for when breaking down a game is the ability of teams to run and stop the run. Do both well and you will likely have a winning football team.

It’s also a great way to find “live dogs”. Find an underdog that has a superior running game and throw in the fact that they are at home and 9 times out of 10 you’ll have yourself a great bet.

This game would appear to fit the bill. Here’s a look at the rushing yards per attempt differential for each team.

Utah 0.6
UCLA 2.8

That stat alone would normally have me running up to the window to place a bet on the home dog Bruins. Their 2.8 differential is more than 2 full rushing yards better than the Utes and that’s huge.

But of course, we need to dig a little deeper. We should expect UCLA to have better numbers when we factor in their schedule strength which is more than TWO touchdowns weaker than Utah’s.

The Bruins beat up on Bowling Green, Alabama State and Colorado. They got by South Alabama by 1 point and then of course last week beat Washington 40-32 in perhaps their only real test of the season.

Utah was expected to contend for a national title this year but stumbled out of the gate with a loss to Florida. They’ve won every game since though, last week knocking off Oregon State 42-16.

Here’s a look at the yards per point numbers for each team.

UTAH 12.2 20.2
UCLA 12.6 13.2

 

We see both teams moving the ball efficiently (the first number is the offensive number, 12.2 for Utah, 12.6 for UCLA) but check out the defensive numbers. The higher the number, the more efficient the defense.

Again, this is significant because of the difference in schedule strength. Using those numbers to make a line, Utah would be 7.5 points better on a neutral field BEFORE factoring in schedule strength.

So we’ll find out Saturday whether or not UCLA is a paper tiger. Playing bad teams doesn’t mean a team isn’t capable. However, in this case, we’d expect better numbers than shown above, suggesting the Bruins may have some weaknesses that Utah can exploit.

Utah -4

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