College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for UCLA vs. Stanford: Your Betting Guide for Saturday’s Pac-12 Matchup (Sept. 25)
Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Benjamin Yurosek.
- The UCLA Bruins travel to the Farm to take on the Stanford Cardinal in Pac-12 action on Saturday.
- The Bruins are coming off a heartbreaking loss to Fresno State but enter this matchup as favorites.
- Check out Roberto Arguello's full betting preview, complete with odds, picks, and predictions below.
UCLA vs. Stanford Odds
|-180 / +155
|60 (-115 / -105)
|6 p.m. ET
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.
The Stanford Cardinal host the UCLA Bruins in a pivotal Pac-12 matchup on Saturday afternoon.
The Cardinal — after having played six road games and a neutral-site game in their last seven contests dating back to last season — will finally play at home this week.
The Cardinal started the season with a sluggish 24-7 loss to Kansas State before switching their starting quarterback from Jack West to the more highly-touted Tanner McKee in Week 2.
That decision has paid dividends for David Shaw as McKee led the Cardinal to a dominant 42-28 win over USC at the Coliseum (as 17-point underdogs!) before taking care of business at Vanderbilt in a 41-23 win in Week 3.
The Bruins are also 2-1 through three games, but all three of their contests have been at home.
They blew out Hawaii in Week 0 before making a 38-27 statement win in Week 1 over LSU. The Bruins had a bye in Week 2 before Jake Haener put Fresno State on his back and carried the Bulldogs to a stunning 40-37 upset win in Week 3.
Stanford has won 12 of the last 13 games in this series dating back to 2009. Also, a win for Stanford on Saturday would immediately put them into the conversation with Oregon as one of the contenders in the Pac-12 North.
UCLA is desperately looking for a bounce-back win as it hopes to capture the Pac-12 South and start conference play with a victory.
UCLA vs. Stanford Betting Preview
Chip Kelly’s offense starts with senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. DTR is a dynamic dual-threat quarterback, and he'll be looking for revenge against Stanford after he was injured in the first half of last season’s double-overtime loss at the Rose Bowl.
DTR has taken a step forward as a passer this season as he's thrown seven touchdowns to just one interception. He's averaging three more yards per pass (11.1) than any other season of his career.
A big reason why the passing game has taken a step forward is because DTR has two of the best pass-catchers in the conference: receiver Kyle Philips and tight end Greg Dulcich.
Both players excel with their after-the-catch ability, so getting them into space against a shorthanded Stanford secondary will be key.
Philips tallied seven receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Fresno State, but Dulcich was held without a catch. Both need to be involved on Saturday for UCLA to win.
Another key component to UCLA’s offense is the ground game led by running backs Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown.
While Brown and DTR have the first and second most carries on the team, Charbonnet has gotten the lion’s share of attention as he's rushed for 10.5 yards per carry and six of the team’s eight touchdowns.
PFF’s Top Graded PAC-12 RB’s:
1. Zach Charbonnet (UCLA) – 90.3
2. Damien Moore (Cal) – 79.3
3. Max Borghi (WSU) – 78.4
4. Brittain Brown (UCLA) – 75.8
5. CJ Verdell (Ore) – 75.6
6. Rachaad White (ASU) – 75.1
*Min 50 Snaps
— WestCoastCFB (@WestCoastCFB) September 20, 2021
Pounding the rock on the ground will be key for the Bruins against a Cardinal defense that ranks 118th in Line Yards and 121st in Rushing Success Rate allowed.
Stanford defenses under defensive coordinator Lance Anderson have historically had trouble against running quarterbacks, so DTR should have opportunities to make plays with his legs.
The Bruins rushed for a total of 291 yards on 5.7 yards per carry in last year’s loss to Stanford.
The defense started the season strong with impressive performances against Hawaii and LSU, holding each team to 2.0 yards per carry or fewer.
Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers had much more success in Week 3, as he rushed for 136 yards on 6.5 yards per carry with two touchdowns.
The Bruins need to solidify their rush defense against a physical Stanford team, even if the Cardinal will be without the majority of their scholarship running backs (more on this in the Stanford section below).
The pass defense for UCLA doesn’t get a break as it just faced the best passing offense in the Mountain West and now, gets to face the second-most efficient passing offense in the Pac-12.
McKee has looked impressive and poised in his first two starts and he'll likely air it out more frequently than normal with limited running backs available.
Haener threw for 455 yards and averaged 8.6 yards per pass against UCLA last week, so the defense needs to step up in the secondary in order to match up with a plethora of big Stanford receivers.
The Cardinal offense will be short-handed as they will be without three of their top four running backs.
E.J. Smith looked like he suffered a leg injury at the end of the Vanderbilt game, while there's concern that Austin Jones and Casey Filkins may be out due to COVID-19 protocols.
Fifth-year running back Justus Woods also announced over the weekend that he's transferring, leaving Nathaniel Peat to carry the load in the backfield.
Tight end Ben Yurosek was also suspiciously absent from the depth chart and it's unclear if he'll play this week. Yurosek is the only tight end to catch a pass for Stanford this season, as he's tallied six receptions for 82 yards on the season.
Shaw said during his Tuesday press conference that the Cardinal were not in danger of having too few players to field a squad this Saturday.
The good news for the Cardinal is that the offensive line, quarterbacks, and receivers are all as healthy as they've been (although senior receiver Michael Wilson, who has missed each game this season, still remains out).
The receiving core led by Brycen Tremayne, John Humphreys, and Elijah Higgins will need to carry the offense.
— PFTCommenter (@PFTCommenter) September 19, 2021
Stanford is also one of the few Power Five schools that uses a fullback. That means Houston Heimuli and Jay Symonds may get some action on the ground Saturday.
McKee also may continue to get the fullbacks involved in the passing game. Last week, he connected with Symonds for a violent 26-yard gain — that featured a Symonds truck stick — before hitting Symonds in the flat on the following play for a walk-in touchdown.
The defense will also be shorthanded, as they remain without safety/nickel Jonathan McGill and cornerback Salim Turner-Muhammad.
Cornerbacks Ethan Bonner and Zahran Manley are also both questionable to play Saturday. Their statuses are worth monitoring as Stanford would start one of these two at the cornerback spot opposite Kyu Blu Kelly, who has established himself as one of the best corners in the nation.
Safety Noah Williams is also out on Saturday, although no injury has been cited for his absence.
Kelly and true freshman nickel corner Jimmy Wyrick each have been impressive this season as they have combined for all three of Stanford’s interceptions.
Overall, the secondary doesn’t have much depth behind these two and safety Kendall Williamsons, so they'll need new faces to continue stepping up.
The secondary was thought to be one of the biggest weaknesses for the Cardinal this season, but it's solidified itself as a strength when healthy through three weeks.
The Stanford linebackers are much healthier this season than in the past two years as they're a much deeper, fast and strong unit overall.
The defensive line will be key for Stanford’s 3-4 defense to get penetration and eat up blocks against the UCLA rushing attack. The Cardinal need Thomas Booker to anchor the line and step up if they hope to limit Charbonnet and DTR.
UCLA vs. Stanford Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how UCLA and Stanford match up statistically:
UCLA Offense vs. Stanford Defense
Stanford Offense vs. UCLA Defense
Pace of Play / Other
UCLA vs. Stanford Betting Pick
As a diehard Stanford fan and alum, I almost always throw a few bucks on my guys to win, but this week, I will be waiting until around kickoff to see if any other Stanford players are surprisingly unavailable to play.
Consequently, I won’t recommend you bet them now. But if Stanford gets Manley back and doesn't lose anyone else, I will bet them on the moneyline as underdogs.
Instead, I love the value on the total at 58.5.
The Stanford defense has struggled against the run and UCLA has one of the best rushing attacks in the country with Charbonnet, DTR and Brown in the backfield. The Cardinal couldn’t stop UCLA’s running game last year, but they survived by outscoring them in a shootout.
Stanford has allowed each of its first three opponents to run for at least 5.6 yards per carry and I would be shocked if UCLA doesn’t have similar success on the ground.
While DTR still has his limitations as a pocket passer, he should have space to hit open receivers with room to run after the catch.
Offensively, Stanford’s line hasn’t been dominant in moving people as it ranks just 115th in Line Yards and 123rd in Rushing Success Rate. With Peat as the only reliable running back, expect the Cardinal to throw the ball more often than they would otherwise.
The Cardinal offense has been consistent throwing the ball with McKee as they rank 28th in Passing Success Rate. I expect the Cardinal to have success through the air against this UCLA defense that was just lit up by Haener last week and also allowed Davis Mills to throw for 428 yards against them last season.
McKee looks like the real deal, and he'll have plenty of weapons to work with despite the notable absences at running back.
Both offenses should have the advantage over the defenses, and as a result, I love the value on 0ver at 58.5 and will bet this up to 62.5.