Cal vs. UCLA College Football Odds & Picks: Target Over/Under at Rose Bowl

Cal vs. UCLA College Football Odds & Picks: Target Over/Under at Rose Bowl article feature image

Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Dorian Thompson-Robinson

Cal vs. UCLA Odds

Saturday, Nov. 27
10:30 p.m. ET
Cal Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

UCLA hosts Cal in the “Bear Bowl” at the Rose Bowl in one of the final editions of Pac-12 After Dark this season. Both teams are coming off of impressive blowout wins over their rivals.

The Golden Bears entered the Big Game against Stanford as 2.5-point road favorites, and they followed through with a demolition of the Cardinal, 41-11.

Similarly, the Bruins were favored by 3.5 points against USC at the Coliseum, and they curb-stomped the Trojans, 62-33.

With many rivalry games taking a year off in 2020 due to the pandemic, this is now the second-longest never-interrupted rivalry as UCLA leads the all-time series 55-34-1.

The Bruins won last year’s meeting 34-10 at the Rose Bowl after the game was originally scheduled to be in Berkeley, but restrictions in Alameda County forced the game to be played in Pasadena or not at all.

Cal sits at 4-6 on the season and needs a win this week and next week against USC to reach bowl eligibility.

The Bruins are bowl eligible under Chip Kelly for the first time in his fourth year as coach, and they are looking for their first eight-win season since 2015 with a win on Saturday night.

California Golden Bears

When the Golden Bears Have the Ball

If Cal covers or pulls off the upset, it will be because they have consistent success running the ball while Chase Garbers steps up as the Bears get touchdowns instead of field goals in the red zone.

Cal has had a strong running game all season as it leads the nation in Line Yards and ranks 32nd in Rush Success Rate. While the UCLA defense ranks 39th in Line Yards, it has consistently let opponents gain yardage on the ground against them as it ranks 112th in Rush Success Rate allowed.

While the Bears offense has consistently been successful on the ground, they haven’t been explosive as they rank just 62nd in the country in rush play explosiveness.

This means that they will need quarterback Chase Garbers to step up in obvious passing situations against an aggressive UCLA defense that likes to blitz.

In his first six games of the season, Garbers threw nine touchdowns to one interception, as Cal went 1-5 with several close losses. However, in his last three games, Garbers has recorded a QBR of 82 or higher and thrown seven touchdowns to just one interception as the Bears have won all three games by at least two scores.

If the senior signal-caller can continue to elevate his game, the Bears could pick up their second win in Pasadena in the last three years.

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UCLA Bruins

When the Bruins Have the Ball

Like the Golden Bears, the Bruins should have an advantage running the ball on offense.

UCLA ranks 23rd in Line Yards and ninth in Rush Success Rate, as it has an edge over a Cal defense that is 98th in Line Yards and 79th in Rush Success Rate allowed.

The Bruins are favored in this game because their offense has been better through the air than the Golden Bears’ offense. UCLA also has the more talented targets on the outside with receiver Kyle Philips and tight end Greg Dulcich.

UCLA ranks 33rd in Pass Success Rate despite ranking poorly as the 114th-best pass-blocking team in the nation. Cal has been solid but unspectacular defensively in Pass Success Rate allowed (57th) and pass rush (56th).


— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) November 21, 2021

Like Cal, the play of UCLA’s dual-threat senior quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, will be key.

DTR is coming off of his best game of the season as he threw for 349 yards, four touchdowns and recorded a QBR of 95.1 (which was his highest QBR in any game this year).

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Cal vs. UCLA Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Cal and UCLA match up statistically:

Cal Offense vs. UCLA Defense
Rush Success32112
Line Yards139
Pass Success8074
Pass Blocking**5691
Big Play2946
Finishing Drives6561
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

UCLA Offense vs. Cal Defense
Rush Success979
Line Yards2398
Pass Success3357
Pass Blocking**11456
Big Play2966
Finishing Drives7721
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling9273
Middle 89147
SP+ Special Teams5988
Plays per Minute9436
Rush Rate50.7% (93)60.7% (23)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Cal vs. UCLA Betting Pick

Both teams and coaches are very familiar with each other, and although I lean toward Cal +6.5, I prefer the value on the total.

While both offenses should have the advantage over the defenses, the defenses should have the advantage in Finishing Drives. The UCLA offense ranks 77th in Finishing Drives while the Cal defense sits 21st. The Cal offense ranks 65th in Finishing Drives, and the UCLA defense ranks 61st.

After starting the season very slowly, the Cal defense has stepped its game up over the last month as it has gotten healthier, and I like defensive-minded head coach Justin Wilcox’s chances of slowing the UCLA offense down.

Garbers has stepped his game up coming down the stretch, but he will be challenged against a UCLA defense that will blitz and force the Cal pass catchers to make one-on-one plays.

The Cal offense hasn’t been very explosive, as it ranks just 118th in passing down explosiveness.

Consequently, I don’t trust Garbers and Cal to win those one-on-ones consistently as they don’t have elite playmakers to consistently win on the outside, and his accuracy has been an issue throughout his career.

Take the under at 58.5 with value down to 57.

Pick: Under 58.5 (Play to 57)

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