Utah vs. UCLA Betting Odds & Picks: Why to Back the Utes (Oct. 1)

Utah vs. UCLA Betting Odds & Picks: Why to Back the Utes (Oct. 1) article feature image

Alika Jenner/Getty Images. Pictured: Utah quarterback Cam Rising.

Utah vs. UCLA Odds

Saturday, Oct. 8
3:30 p.m. ET
Utah Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

In what will be one of the most important games this season in the Pac-12, Utah and UCLA meet for what could be an epic high-scoring affair.

Both of these teams have similar styles with their high-powered offenses and defenses that are a bit unknown. However, there's one team that has more experience and a winning pedigree that I think will come out victorious.

Utah Utes

Utes Offense

This Utah offense has been electric this season. It ranks 27th in Offensive Success Rate and enters as the 11th-best unit in the country, per SP+.

Quarterback Cam Rising has been good through the air, but the Utes' ground attack has been strong as well, ranking 22nd in Rushing Success Rate.

Utah’s Offensive Success Rates this year have all been above the 65th percentile, and four of them have been in the 89th percentile or higher.

However, none of the defenses that Utah has faced this year have been very good. UCLA’s defense is going to be the highest-ranked unit by SP+ that the Utes have faced this season. 

The Utes run the ball at the 26th-highest rate in the country (57%), and they will need to do this successfully in order to win, as UCLA’s rushing defense is its biggest weakness.

Utes Defense

After a rough game against Florida in Week 1, this defensive unit has rebounded nicely. Its next four games saw its opponents post below-average Success Rates en route to four relatively easy wins. 

However, none of the offenses Utah faced in this stretch compare to UCLA’s. The Utes were obliterated by the one top-25 offense they faced this year, as Florida posted a Success Rate in the 97th percentile. Still, UCLA’s offense is ranked eighth by SP+, compared to Florida’s ranking of 23rd.

The Utah defense has performed well, but it will need to play much better than it did in Week 1 if it hopes to stop UCLA’s offense.

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UCLA Bruins

Bruins Offense

UCLA’s offense has been one of the most efficient in the nation so far this year. It ranks seventh in Offensive Success Rate, sixth in Passing Success Rate and 25th in Rushing Success Rate.

The improvement that Dorian Thompson-Robinson has shown this year has been one of the major keys to their success. He's averaging 0.34 EPA per dropback and has thrown for over 263 yards in each of the three games that he didn't leave early. For reference, he only had two games like that all of last season.

Prior to facing Washington last week, most of the teams on the Bruins’ schedule had been weaker squads with poor defense, which probably inflated some of their offensive numbers. UCLA's offense was as good as ever against the Huskies, though, as it posted a 94th-percentile Offensive Success Rate in the win.

This Utah defense will be the best that it has faced this year, but this offense is among the best in the country and will be tough to stop.

Bruins Defense

These two teams may as well be mirror images of each other this season.

As was the story with Utah, UCLA’s offense also leads the charge while its defense hasn't been quite as good. This UCLA defense looked good against Bowling Green, Alabama State and Colorado but then had a rough day against both South Alabama and Washington.

Those are the only two offenses UCLA has faced this season that rank in the top 100, per SP+. Even ranked 86th, South Alabama posted a 73rd-percentile Success Rate against the Bruins. Last week, Washington put up a Success Rate in the 92nd percentile in a high-scoring matchup.

With this mostly weak schedule, UCLA ranks 40th in Defensive Success Rate — but it does have a weakness. The rushing defense for the Bruins ranks 91st in Success Rate and will provide a potential opportunity for the Utes to take advantage.

Utah vs. UCLA Matchup Analysis

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

Utah Offense vs. UCLA Defense
Rush Success4351
Line Yards3365
Pass Success4275
Pass Blocking**5025
Finishing Drives8686
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

UCLA Offense vs. Utah Defense
Rush Success1939
Line Yards595
Pass Success621
Pass Blocking**12107
Finishing Drives5323
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling9182
PFF Coverage3514
SP+ Special Teams2375
Seconds per Play29.0 (112)23.3 (16)
Rush Rate57.4% (42)53.3% (69)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Utah vs. UCLA Betting Pick

This season, Utah is 4-1 against the spread, and by ESPN's Bill Connelly’s expected scores, they should be 5-0 ATS. In their last three games, Utah’s defense has held opponents under their implied team total in each game. 

The UCLA offense, while efficient, ranks just 104th in the nation in explosiveness this year. I believe this will set it up for potential mistakes against an opportunistic Utah defense.

The market has been slightly too low on Utah all season, and I think this will show again on Saturday. Rising is a star at quarterback, and his consistency at quarterback is what will help Utah to victory and a cover.

Pick: Utah -3.5 (Play to -4)

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