UCLA vs. Oregon Picks, Predictions: Our Staff’s Spread & Over/Under Best Bets for Saturday’s College Football Game
ichael Owens/Getty Images & Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured from left: UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) and Oregon Ducks linebacker Noah Swell (1).
UCLA vs. Oregon Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
By Dan Keegan
Last week was a picture-perfect week of college football. From last-second scores and rivalries renewed to legacies forged and streaks broken. It was everything we could have dreamed and more. Hopefully you cashed a few tickets along the way.
This week, we’re back with another excellent college football slate, and while it doesn’t have the same depth as last week, we still have a titanic top-10 tilt with first billing from Eugene, Oregon.
Chip Kelly’s veteran UCLA squad heads north to take on a Ducks team that has dominated the Bruins in recent years. Kelly has yet to defeat his old outfit in three tries.
Both teams enter in the top 10 of both the AP Poll and SP+ despite auspicious starts to their seasons.
The Bruins coasted through a sleepy September but have caught fire in conference play with comfortable wins over Washington and Utah.
The Ducks started the season with all eyes on their matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs, but a controlled demolition at the hands of the reigning champions had many people writing off Bo Nix and company. That was a mistake — the Ducks have been rolling ever since.
That brings us to our game now, with the Ducks favored by 6 and a total of 69.5 that’s among the highest on the board.
College GameDay will be on hand, and the forecast calls for rain all afternoon. A spot in the Pac-12 championship game could be on the line — remember, the league did away with divisions this offseason — and Kelly would love nothing more than to steal that spot from his old employer.
We polled 12 of our college football analysts to find a consensus in the matchup and to look for other profitable angles in the biggest game of the day. Let’s see what they have to say.
UCLA vs. Oregon Point Spread
In the last two matchups between these programs, the final tally has been settled by just a combined six points with UCLA head coach Chip Kelly’s former employer emerging victorious both times. Kelly has been nipping at the Duck’s heels for the past two years, but this year has the team to get it done.
The Ducks have been credibly tough to beat in Eugene, winning 22 straight at Autzen Stadium dating back to 2018. Oregon will have its hands full, though, as No. 9 UCLA has won six of its last seven beyond the confines of Pasadena.
UCLA is 4-2 against the spread this season, covering its sole road trip to Colorado. Oregon is an equally impressive 4-2, covering every time at home.
Both of these teams enter Saturday's game possessing elite rushing attacks, but this game will ultimately be decided through the air.
UCLA’s offense, led by senior Dorian Thompson-Robinson, ranks 25th nationally in passing offens, averaging 294.2 yards per game. Where Thompson-Robinson and the Bruins stand out, however, is in Passing Success Rate, where they rank first in the nation at 57%.
The Bruins’ passing attack is elite, but the differentiator in this game will be the relative weakness of the Ducks’ secondary. Juxtaposing the UCLA passing offense next tp the Oregon secondary, we find the starkest mismatch of the game.
The Ducks’ secondary ranks just 50th in the nation with a Defensive Passing Success Rate of 43.3%. Both teams go tit-for-tat in the statistical rushing matchup, but look for Kelly to relentlessly attack Oregon’s secondary in the later stages of the game.
By way of comparison, Oregon ranks a very respectable 15th (51.5%) nationally in Passing Success Rate when in possession of the ball but will be facing off against a competent UCLA secondary that ranks 27th (46.3%) in the nation in Defensive Passing Success Rate.
The UCLA secondary will be presented with a much more manageable task against the Bo Nix-led Oregon offense.
Look for Kelly to relish the underdog spot here against his former team with College Football Playoff implications on the line. There will be plenty of points scored, but this game will be settled in the air with UCLA’s secondary cashing the ticket for bettors.
Staff Pick: UCLA +6
UCLA vs. Oregon Over/Under
Two of the top offenses in the nation face off in this Pac-12 matchup, as Chip Kelly and the UCLA Bruins look for their first win since 2004 in the house that Kelly put on the map.
It remains to be seen whether or not Kelly can flex on the Ducks for the first time since departing for the NFL, but historical precedent points to a high-scoring affair.
What we do know is that, in true Pac-12 fashion, this game will evolve into a festival of points.
Heading into this game, a lot is being made of the rushing attacks for both teams. There’s a lot to boast about, but the issue is that both teams also have excellent rush defenses. Oregon and UCLA rank 10th and 20th in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 6.2 and 5.5 yards per carry, respectively.
The offsetting issue is that both teams are essentially in a statistical tie with what are excellent rushing defenses. Oregon and UCLA rank 14th and 16th in rushing defense, with both programs allowing just over three yards per carry.
While the front seven for both teams have been excellent against the run, this hasn’t translated to disruptive plays for opposing offenses. UCLA sits 83rd nationally in Havoc Rate, and Oregon comes in at 93rd.
A lack of Havoc means the defense is failing to set opposing offenses back. And if the defenses aren’t pressuring the opposing veteran starting quarterback, they’re going to make them pay.
Seniors Bo Nix and Dorian Thompson-Robinson have the capability to do just that and have combined for 17,828 yards and 127 touchdowns in their collegiate careers.
The veteran poise has translated well into their final acts with Nix’s Ducks and Thompson-Robinson’s Bruins ranking ninth (42.0 PPG) and 12th (41.5 PPG) in scoring offense, respectively.
The two quarterbacks will have no problem putting up points as they face passing defenses that rank in the bottom third of passing defenses nationwide. Through six games, Oregon ranks 113th in the nation in passing defense by allowing 275.3 yards per game, while UCLA comes in at 88th after giving up 245.8 yards per game.
Both coaching staffs recognize that running the ball will not be the long-term solution against these front sevens. These teams are going to come out of the gates with guns blazing and their running games in the back pocket as they both look to exploit the porous opposing secondaries.
Don’t be surprised if this point total winds up in the 80s.
Staff Pick: Over 69.5
UCLA ML +195
Despite an unblemished record and a top-10 national ranking, Chip Kelly’s exploits are somehow still flying under the radar.
This is Kelly’s best and most balanced offense since arriving in Los Angeles in 2018. Dorian Thompson-Robinson has transformed himself from a streaky passer into one of the nation’s most accurate (74.8%, 2nd).
With the ball in his hands in so many high-leverage situations, the fact that UCLA has just six turnovers halfway through the season speaks volumes to his maturity as both a leader and de facto point guard in Kelly’s system.
He’ll be throwing into a downright awful Oregon secondary. The Ducks are allowing 313 yards per game through the air (126th), which can’t even be explained away with phrases like “game flow” and “garbage time.”
They have made opponents work for it by limiting big plays through the air, but the same can’t be said for their run defense, which ranks 101st in explosiveness allowed.
I’m not going to pretend UCLA’s defense is capable of shutting down Oregon’s attack, but this is still Bo Nix we’re talking about.
Nix has lit up lousy defenses after the Ducks’ dud in the opener against UGA. Since then, he’s faced an FCS defense and four passing defenses with an average rank of 73rd. UCLA ranks 16th in explosiveness allowed through the air and is a little bit of turnover luck away from taking this game outright.
At nearly 2-1, I’m willing to bank on a quarterback and coach that I trust more in this situation.
Pick: UCLA ML +195 (Play to +170)
UCLA Team Total Over 31.5
The last two times Chip Kelly and the Bruins squared up against the Ducks, they went for 31 and 35 points, respectively. This year, Kelly comes into the game with what is undoubtedly his most talented collegiate roster since his time at Oregon.
The Bruins rank 122th in scoring offense nationally, averaging 41.5 points per game. There were a couple of patsies along the way at the beginning of the season, but the Bruins went into their bye week after hanging 40-plus points on both Washington and Utah.
Bruins senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has been tearing it up along the way. In Pac-12 play, Thompson-Robinson has averaged 282 yards per game with nine touchdowns to just one interception.
UCLA is matched up against an Oregon defense that’s far from elite, ranking 81st in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 28.8 points per game. The glaring weakness in the Oregon defense is the secondary, which ranks 113th in pass defense by giving up just over 275 yards per game.
Hold up for a second. Vegas thinks that UCLA is going to score only 2-3 more points than average against this Oregon defense that ranks 113th in the nation in passing defense? Didn’t Stanford, the 81st-ranked scoring offense, just come into Autzen Stadium and put up 27 points?
Eugene is a notoriously tough place to play, but this number is just way too low given the talent Kelly’s team has and the favorable matchup it faces in the secondary.
My model has UCLA scoring 39 points in a game that will come down to the wire.
Pick: UCLA Team Total Over 31.5 (Play to 32.5)
1H Over 35
If you take away the season opener against Georgia, then Oregon would be put into the upper echelon of college football teams at this point in the year.
It’s worth noting that it actually moved the ball well against the Bulldogs, but mistakes and red-zone inefficiencies derailed its drives.
The Ducks now get a UCLA squad fresh off of a bye after comfortably controlling Utah in a 10-point victory.
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has been one of the better dual threat quarterbacks in the country and is well on pace to smashing his efficiency numbers from last season.
Behind DTR’s high level of play under center, UCLA has been one of the best units in Success Rate. Should it limit Oregon’s backfield pressure behind elite line play, then DTR will keep the Ducks’ secondary on its heels with his unique downfield attack.
With both units fielding elite offenses that are capable of putting up points in a hurry, I will take the first-half over at no higher than 35. Buckle up for an exciting Pac-12 showdown.