College Football Odds & Pick For UCLA vs. Oregon: Look to Bet the Ducks on Saturday
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images. Pictured: Oregon Ducks quarterback Tyler Shough (12).
UCLA vs. Oregon Odds
|UCLA Odds||+17.5 [BET NOW]|
|Oregon Odds||-17.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+500 / -714 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||61.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
A limited sample size can produce false narratives, and I believe we have a double dose of that in this weekend’s contest between UCLA and Oregon.
The Ducks are 2-0 straight-up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) despite a turnover margin of -5 on the season. The Ducks’ carelessness with the football is masking the fact they have a CFP ceiling. And given the fact that Oregon is covering the spread by an average of 6.5 points per game without the benefit of a single takeaway tells me it’s due for some positive regression this week.
UCLA, meanwhile, appears to be light years ahead of where it ended last season, thanks in large part to the explosive play of quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The junior passer has tossed seven touchdowns and run in two in just eight quarters this season. Lighting up Colorado was expected given the coaching and roster turnover in Boulder, but dropping 34 on California was altogether surprising.
That outcome, however, may have been heavily influenced by the last-minute nature of the matchup. UCLA wasn’t on Cal’s initial schedule and was afforded limited time to prepare. As a result, Cal didn’t blitz much in the first half and relied on its base defense. UCLA responded by scoring 27 points before Cal shored up its defense with a handful of halftime adjustments. After the break, UCLA gained just 165 yards and scored seven points.
I believe we’ll see UCLA’s meteoric rise up the Pac-12 pecking order hit a snag this weekend against an Oregon defense that should be more disruptive than it’s shown in its first two games.
Last season, UCLA couldn’t protect Thompson-Robinson in the pocket or on the move, which severely impacted its offensive production. Through two games, it appears the Bruins finally have a unit capable of giving their passing game a fighting chance. Despite the protection, the issue of Thompson-Robinson’s accuracy remains a significant problem.
A sub-60% career passer, Thompson-Robinson is barely above the 50% mark this season, which has made the Bruins overly reliant on the explosive pass. I expect Oregon’s pass rush to shine in this game, especially Kayvon Thibodeaux. The No. 1-ranked prospect in the 2019 class registered 14 tackles for loss last season and got going last week with two against Washington State.
If Thompson-Robinson doesn’t play — which is a possibility — Oregon could really take advantage.
Creating negative plays and putting the Bruins behind the sticks should make it easier for Oregon to take away the deep throws that helped UCLA burn Colorado and California.
I understand that Oregon is replacing a top-10 draft pick who has a legitimate chance to be the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, but where is the love for Tyler Shough? The first-time starter is connecting on 68% of his passes, and he’s averaging 352 total yards and three touchdowns per game. He’s also piloting the nation’s most efficient third-down offense.
And it’s not just Oregon’s third-down efficiency that caught my attention. Shough and the Ducks are also leading the nation in yards per play at an incendiary 8.1 yards per play.
Can UCLA slow these guys down at all? Early returns from the Bruin defense would indicate that they’ve improved, but the question remains: how much better are they than last year?
Chip Kelly’s defense surrendered 456 total yards per game in 2019, and despite returning just 53% of that defensive production (96th), it’s whittled that figure down to 350.5 yards (31st).
I remain skeptical, given the offensive limitations of both Colorado and Cal, because UCLA’s defensive Havoc rating is 115th. The Bruins still struggle to force teams outside of their comfort zones, and the Ducks may boast the coziest offense going right now.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I projected the point spread of every Pac-12 matchup when it released the conference-only slate back in early October. I penciled this one in as Oregon-20.5. For that reason, I’m not as concerned with this spread jumping from the key number of two touchdowns to the 17-point range. I still believe Oregon will win going away and would play the Ducks all the way up to -23.5.
Pick: Oregon -17 (up to -23.5)