UCLA vs Utah Odds, Picks: College Football Betting Preview

UCLA vs Utah Odds, Picks: College Football Betting Preview article feature image

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  • The UCLA Bruins take on the Utah Utes in Saturday night Pac-12 action.
  • The Utes enter as moderate favorites, but is there value on the visitors?
  • BJ Cunningham breaks it down below and shares a betting pick based on his analysis.

UCLA vs. Utah Odds

Saturday, Oct. 30
10 p.m. ET
-105o / -115u
Utah Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

UCLA tries to rebound from a close loss to Oregon as it takes on Utah in Salt Lake City.

Chip Kelly's squad almost completed an improbable comeback against his former team last week. The loss dropped the Bruins to 5-3 on the season, so any hopes of making the Pac-12 title game will be gone if they lose to Utah on Saturday.

Utah lost its first Pac-12 game of the season on Saturday at Oregon State after leading by 10 at the half. The Utes have improved ever since Cameron Rising took over at quarterback and are in the driver's seat in the Pac-12 South despite owning a 4-3 record on the season.

Utah has won four straight games against UCLA, so we'll see if it can make it five on Saturday night.

UCLA Bruins

Bruins Offense

Dorian Thompson-Robinson did get knocked out of the Oregon game with a shoulder injury last Saturday. At the time of writing, Thompson-Robinson is questionable to play on Saturday night, but reports out of practice say he's been throwing and looks likely to play on Saturday night.

UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson appears increasingly likely to play against Utah https://t.co/s6t8shBaTX

— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) October 27, 2021

However, the UCLA offense, like most of Kelly's teams, relies on running the ball. The Bruins run the ball 62.3% of the time, and they've had a lot of success doing so, gaining 5.0 yards per carry.

Michigan transfer Zach Charbonnet has been one of the most effective backs in the country, gaining 5.9 yards per rush and has the Bruins ranking 11th in Rushing Success Rate, 26th in EPA/Rush.

Most missed tackles forced among RBs the last four weeks:

1. Brian Robinson Jr, Alabama: 33
2. Bijan Robinson, Texas: 29
3. Zach Charbonnet, UCLA: 23pic.twitter.com/CoCncj3GlG

— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 27, 2021

The team also boasts the 27th-best offensive line in terms of run blocking grade, per PFF.

Running the ball effectively is exactly how teams beat a Utah defense that allows 4.4 yards per rush and sits outside the top 85 in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and Defensive Line Yards.

Bruins Defense

The Bruins' front seven has been really good this season. UCLA is only allowing 3.4 yards per carry, ranks 37th in EPA/Rush allowed, and sits fifth in Defensive Line Yards.

However, it hasn't done a great job of putting pressure on the quarterback. UCLA is 100th in pass-rushing grade, per PFF, and is 66th in Havoc created. That's a problem against a quarterback like Rising, who has a 53.0 passing grade when pressured this season.

The secondary is having major issues right now, as the Bruins are allowing 7.5 yards per pass attempt and rank outside the top 80 in Passing Success Rate Allowed, EPA/Pass allowed, and coverage, per PFF.

The good news is the Utah passing attack has not been elite whatsoever, ranking 80th in EPA/Pass.

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Utah Utes

Utes Offense

Utah's offense has not been elite by any stretch of the imagination. The Utes are gaining 5.9 yards per play and rank 54th in Success Rate and 85th in explosiveness.

The main problems have been in the passing game with Rising, who averages only 7.4 yards per attempt.

One of the biggest issues with Utes' passing attack is a lack of explosiveness, as it's 113th in passing explosiveness and 78th in Passing Success Rate. That's a problem in this game because that's exactly how teams beat this UCLA defense.

The running game has been solid, averaging 5.3 yards per carry and ranks 22nd in EPA/Rush. However, the Utah offensive line is 73rd in terms of run-blocking grade, per PFF.

So, going up against the fifth-ranked team in terms of Defensive Line Yards will make it difficult for the Utes to establish the run on Saturday night.

Utes Defense

The Utah defense has actually been quite bad this season, as it's 71st in Success Rate Allowed and 64th in EPA/Play allowed. Regression is coming for a defense that's allowing only 4.9 yards per play.

The problems aren't specific to the front seven or the secondary, as Utah is outside the top 60 in EPA/Rush and EPA/Pass allowed.

However, specifically in this matchup against a rush-heavy UCLA offense, the Utes' front seven are going to have to improve drastically because it ranks 92nd in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and grades out as the 54th-best run defense, per PFF.

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UCLA vs. Utah Matchup Analysis

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

UCLA Offense vs. Utah Defense
Rush Success1192
Line Yards4189
Pass Success4452
Pass Blocking**8668
Big Play5358
Finishing Drives9071
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Utah Offense vs. UCLA Defense
Rush Success6271
Line Yards365
Pass Success7899
Pass Blocking**10696
Big Play1636
Finishing Drives5045
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling6076
Middle 87284
SP+ Special Teams51124
Plays per Minute3862
Rush Rate62.3% (20)49.9% (97)

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

UCLA vs. Utah Betting Pick

If Thompson-Robinson plays in this game, I think UCLA has a distinct advantage against a Utah front seven that has struggled against the run this season.

Utah will also start the game without middle linebacker and leading tackler Devin Lloyd after he committed a targeting penalty in the second half of last week's loss to Oregon State.

Additionally, the Utah passing attack likely will not be able to effectively exploit UCLA's weaknesses in the secondary.

I only have Utah projected at -2.40, so I think there's some value on the Bruins at +6.5 and would play it down to +5.5.

Pick: UCLA +6.5

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