UCLA vs USC Pick, Odds: Back Caleb Williams in Final Home Game
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: USC’s Caleb Williams.
UCLA vs USC Odds
For one final time in the Pac-12, the battle for Los Angeles occurs in the Coliseum, with UCLA and USC going head-to-head.
Things are not going well for UCLA, as rumors are swirling that Chip Kelly will be fired at the end of the season. It comes after two straight losses to Arizona and Arizona State, where the Bruins put up a combined 17 points.
They've already hit the six-win mark, so they are bowl-eligible, but there's some real quit potential with this team right now.
USC's season has taken a nosedive after the 36-27 loss to Oregon. Defense has been the problem and ultimately led to the firing of defensive coordinator Alex Grinch two weeks ago.
This is the last regular-season game for Caleb Williams in the Coliseum before he heads to the NFL Draft, so the Trojans offense should be motivated to put on a good show.
Let's dive into UCLA vs. USC odds and make a pick for Saturday's Pac-12 college football game.
UCLA's offense has sputtered down the stretch, as Kelly, a supposed offensive wizard, has no answers.
The problem for UCLA has been quarterback play. Dante Moore and Ethan Garbers missed the last game against Arizona State, but both have been practicing this week, with Garbers already upgraded to probable.
If Garbers starts, he has been the better passer this season, despite all of Moore's talent.
|Quarterback||EPA/Play||Yards per Attempt||Completion %|
Positive EPA Play %
Data from Sports Info Solutions.
Garbers gives UCLA a better chance than it has with Moore to light up a terrible USC secondary.
With bad play at quarterback the last two games, it's put a lot of pressure on the UCLA rushing attack to be successful. It struggled against Arizona but ran the ball for almost five yards per carry against Arizona State.
Overall, it's been pretty good for the season, ranking top-40 nationally in Rush Success Rate and Offensive Line Yards.
So, what has been the problem with the UCLA offense?
It's been the ability to finish drives. The Bruins are averaging only 3.1 points on drives that end inside the opponent's 40-yard line, ranking 120th nationally.
It gets even worse when they get into the red zone, where they score points only 60% of the time, the worst mark in college football.
The Bruins defense has been pretty solid this season, and that's not why they are sitting at 6-4. UCLA is 13th in EPA per Play allowed and has been incredible at stopping the run.
The Bruins allow only 2.3 yards per carry because of how dominant they are at the point of attack, ranking inside the top 20 in Stuff Rate and Defensive Line Yards.
The secondary will be tested against one of the most talented quarterbacks in college football, but overall, that unit has been solid, ranking 17th in in PFF's coverage grades.
Williams hasn't had the Heisman-caliber season that many were expecting. He's still a top-10 quarterback. He's just no longer the best.
He's averaging 9.3 yards per attempt, ranks 11th among qualified quarterbacks in EPA, and boasts an 83.3 PFF passing grade.
Williams is a huge threat to run, but what makes him unique is his ability to throw the ball deep. On passes of over 20 yards in the air, he has a 50% completion percentage and 10 touchdowns, making USC a particularly dangerous offense.
While Williams gets all of the attention, and rightfully so, lead back MarShawn Lloyd is averaging a whopping 7.5 yards per carry. He has a PFF rushing grade of 88.5, which has helped the Trojans to top-15 national ranks in both Rush Success Rate and EPA per Rush.
Grinch has been fired as defensive coordinator, but the performance that followed was more of the same. Bo Nix torched this secondary for 412 yards passing and four touchdowns, while Bucky Irving averaged 6.2 yards per carry on the ground.
On the year, USC ranks 102nd in Success Rate Allowed and 120th in EPA per Play Allowed, mainly by allowing explosive plays.
Tackling has always been a problem for the Trojans, and it's the main reason USC allows so many explosive plays. The Trojans rank 99th nationally in PFF's tackling grades.
It's purely a coaching problem. It's been the same story for years.
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Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how UCLA and USC match up statistically:
UCLA Offense vs. USC Defense
USC Offense vs. UCLA Defense
Pace of Play / Other
|Special Teams SP+||109||133|
|Seconds per Play||24.1 (16)||26.3 (54)|
|Rush Rate||57.4% (54)||45.5% (119)|
UCLA vs USC
Betting Pick & Prediction
Both teams are already bowl-eligible, and neither team is making the Pac-12 Championship game.
So, you have to question motivation here. I don't see UCLA getting off the bus for this one.
Plus, UCLA's inability to score once they get into the opponents' end of the field is a real problem. Ranking dead last in the country in red-zone scoring percentage is not conducive to covering the spread, even if the offense has successfully moved the ball outside the red zone.
With this being Williams's last home game of his career, I expect the USC offense to be highly motivated to send its Heisman trophy-winning quarterback out on a high note.
Plus, the Trojans are among the most efficient offenses inside the opponents' territory, ranking third in Finishing Drives.
So, I like the value on the Trojans at -6.5.