Arizona State vs. UCLA Odds, Pick, Prediction: Pac-12 After Dark Betting Preview
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Philips
- UCLA plays host to Arizona State on Saturday night in a Pac-12 battle.
- Both the Bruins and Sun Devils enter the game 3-1 and vying for the South Division title.
- Check out Roberto Arguello's breakdown below and his top pick for the game.
Arizona State vs. UCLA Odds
|Arizona State Odds||+3 (+100)|
|UCLA Odds||-3 (-120)|
|Moneyline||+145 / -165|
|Time||10:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
Coming into the season, experts expected the Pac-12 South to be a four-team race between USC, UCLA, Arizona State and Utah.
After just four games, it feels like the battle for the Pac-12 South is down to just two teams: Arizona State and UCLA.
USC has lost its first two home conference games in blowouts against Stanford and Oregon State and fired its head coach. Utah saw its starting quarterback enter the transfer portal and the Utes’ offense clearly hasn’t taken the step forward many expected.
The winner of Saturday night’s matchup at the Rose Bowl will be the clear favorite to win the division.
Here’s how you should bet this pivotal Pac-12 After Dark matchup.
Arizona State vs. UCLA Betting Preview
Arizona State Offense
If Arizona State pulls the road upset as a short underdog, it needs a great game from Jayden Daniels.
When some picked ASU to win the Pac-12 South this year, it was because they thought Daniels would take the next step as a passer to elevate the offense to new heights. However, he has just two passing touchdowns and three interceptions through three games while having a middling 58.1 QBR.
The Sun Devils’ rushing attack led by Rachaad White has been fantastic this year, though, ranking second in Rush Success Rate and fifth in Line Yards.
However, that alone won’t be enough to beat a UCLA defense that ranks second nationally in defensive Line Yards.
— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) September 26, 2021
Arizona State doesn’t have any big time playmakers at receiver like it has in recent years (Brandon Aiyuk or N’Keal Harry), so Daniels has less room for error than in past years.
Arizona State Defense
If the Arizona State defense hopes to stop the UCLA offense, it needs to step up by stopping the UCLA rushing attack.
The Bruins have a dynamic backfield with running backs Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown and dual-threat quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
Arizona State’s defense ranks just 75th in Defensive Line Yards, and will face its stiffest test yet against the UCLA offense that ranks 11th in Big Plays.
The Sun Devils have allowed a quarterback run for at least 28 yards in each of their last two games, so keeping Thompson-Robinson in front of them will be key.
If the Sun Devils can bow up on early downs and force Thompson-Robinson to beat them with his arm, they’ll have success defensively.
The strength of the unit is that it ranks 23rd in Pass Success Rate allowed and 24th in pass rush. ASU will pressure Thompson-Robinson in obvious passing situations, especially with UCLA’s offensive line ranking 90th in Pass Blocking.
UCLA’s offense has scored 35 or more points in every game this season, and its playmakers at each skill position are a big reason for this.
Charbonnet is rushing for 7.8 yards per carry with seven touchdowns while Brown has 5.6 yards per carry. DTR, Charbonnet and Brown have 45, 46 and 47 rush attempts on the season, so ASU needs to be ready to stop all three.
In addition to the talented backfield, receiver Kyle Philips and tight end Greg Dulcich have also been outstanding.
Philips is coming off consecutive 100-yard receiving games for the first time in his career and he ranks fifth in college football with five receiving touchdowns this season.
Dulcich has had a few relatively quiet weeks since the LSU game, but he could play an important role in play action this week, especially if DTR makes some plays early with his legs.
How about Greg Dulcich! DTR finds Dulcich who dodges multiple defenders on his way into the end zone. UCLA has tied the game.
— CFB Blitz (@BlitzCfb) September 5, 2021
Something to watch for: DTR suffered a shoulder/arm injury in the second half against Stanford, left the game for a play, then returned and threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Philips to seal the win.
Thompson-Robinson will start Saturday, but any aggravation of this injury could be a big problem for the Bruins.
If the Bruins cover against the Sun Devils, it will be because their defense continues to stop the run.
UCLA has excelled against the ground game, ranking second in defensive Line Yards and rank 51st in Rush Success Rate allowed.
Like Arizona State, UCLA will have its hands full against the best rushing attack they’ve seen all season.
The weakness for this Bruins’ defense is that it’s susceptible to the pass; UCLA ranks 94th in Pass Success Rate and 81st in Pass Rushing.
However, after facing quarterbacks Jake Haener and Tanner McKee, Daniels won’t present the same challenge to defend as a pocket passer.
Starting safety Quentin Lake was injured against Fresno State and although he went through warmups against Stanford, he didn’t play against the Cardinal. Lake has been practicing this week and is expected to start on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.
Arizona State vs. UCLA Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Arizona State and UCLA match up statistically:
Arizona State Offense vs. UCLA Defense
UCLA Offense vs. Arizona State Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Arizona State vs. UCLA Betting Pick
I believe these are the two best teams in the Pac-12 South, as both have good rushing offenses (including a dual-threat quarterback) and two of the best defenses in the Conference of Champions.
However, I think UCLA is a better version of Arizona State for four reasons.
First, the Bruins have the better quarterback. Thompson-Robinson’s QBR of 70.3 is significantly higher than Daniels, (58.1) despite UCLA’s schedule being tougher than Arizona State’s. Thompson-Robinson’s touchdown-to-interception ratio is also better (9-to-1 compared to Daniels’ 2-to-3).
Also, Thompson-Robinson has been the better playmaker so far as he’s had a Big-Time Throw Rate of 6.6% compared to Daniels’ 1.0% Big-Time Throw Rate.
Second, UCLA has the better playmakers outside to elevate the play of its quarterback. Philips and Duclich are two of the best in the Pac-12 at their respective positions and they can make the Arizona State defense pay for selling out against the run.
Third, UCLA’s defense is the better-equipped defense to stop the opposing rushing attack. Both teams rely on their running game offensively and neither quarterback is good enough as a pocket passer to singlehandedly carry his offense against these quality defenses.
The Bruins rank second nationally in defensive Line Yards while the Sun Devils rank 75th. This will be the biggest factor in UCLA winning and covering.
Finally, UCLA is simply the more disciplined team. The Bruins rank 86th with 61.75 penalty yards per game, which isn’t great. However, the Sun Devils rank 129th (second to last among FBS teams) in penalty yards per game at 102.25.
Arizona State lost its matchup against BYU a few weeks ago because of too many turnovers and undisciplined play and it cannot afford to make the same mistakes on Saturday night.
Take UCLA, which is a better version of Arizona State, at -3 to cover with value down to -5.5 as it takes a stranglehold on the Pac-12 South.