Week 8 Odds, Picks, Predictions for UCLA vs. Oregon: Our Bettors Debate Each Side (October 23)
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured from left: UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (7) and Oregon Ducks quarterback Anthony Brown (13).
- This college football Saturday rolls on as UCLA and Oregon go to battle.
- Our bettors see value on opposite sides, and they debate the merits of both below.
- Check out their betting debate for this Pac-12 matchup below.
UCLA vs. Oregon Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
What has seemed to become a problematic pattern out West, we are nearing the end of October with just one Pac-12 team ranked in the AP Top 25.
Oregon is 5-1, and with a big win against Ohio State on the resume, the Ducks are the conference’s only chance at a College Football Playoff berth. Otherwise, it will be left out for a fifth straight year.
Chip Kelly will lead UCLA against his former program, which he led to a National Championship appearance. It will be Kelly’s third time facing the Ducks since joining UCLA, and he is 0-2 against them.
The other big news on the sidelines is that offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead will return for Oregon after missing the last two games after emergency surgery.
The Ducks averaged 38.8 points per game and 6.3 yards per play through their first four games with him on the headset. In the last two games without Moorhead, Oregon averaged 24 points and 6.0 yards per play. The Ducks had three turnovers in the last two games after recording just one in the first four.
One of those games was their lone loss of the season, which came at Stanford.
Moorhead is one of the best offensive coordinators in the country, and having him back calling plays is crucial for this Ducks offense, as we saw him scheme up a 505-yard team effort in the upset of Ohio State. Oregon ranks 26th in the country in Offensive Success Rate this season.
We know Oregon wants to run the ball, and we have seen Moorhead’s offenses thrive at rushing success at Penn State and Mississippi State.
The injury to CJ Verdell is a big loss, but Travis Dye has been the best back the last two seasons and is averaging 6.7 yards per carry this season. Quarterback Anthony Brown is also really mobile and has run for five touchdowns on the ground this year.
As a team, the Ducks are averaging 5.1 yards per rush and 210.3 rush yards per game. They rank 34th in Rush Success and 16th in Line Yards while the UCLA defense ranks 57th at defending the run.
In both of UCLA’s losses this season, the Bruins allowed three rushing touchdowns.
Both teams are very similar. Both have solid records, received AP votes and feature run-heavy offenses.
But UCLA has edges all over the place.
My overarching argument is this: Everything Oregon can do, UCLA can do better.
In a game between two teams that run the ball, the Bruins are more efficient at doing it (UCLA is 13th in Rushing Success Rate, Oregon 34th) while being better at stopping it at the point of attack (UCLA is fifth in Defensive LIne Yards, Oregon 66th).
And while both teams run the ball about 60% of the time (Oregon 58.8%, UCLA 62.2%), they’ll also have to throw the ball at some point. UCLA has the edge in Passing Downs Success Rate (UCLA 51st, Oregon 77th) with a quarterback who grades out better in Pro Football Focus’ passing grades (Dorian Thompson-Robinson 67.2, Anthony Brown 61.4).
Finally, UCLA is 5-2 against the spread (ATS) this season, while Oregon is just 1-5. That alone should be enough to back the Bruins on Saturday.
Ianniello: You want to talk about ATS trends? Are you sure you want to back Kelly as a favorite? During his tenure at UCLA, Kelly is just 5-8 ATS as a favorite. He is just 3-8 as a favorite of less than two touchdowns.
Oregon has been an underdog just four times in the last three years and won three of the games straight up (SU), including earlier this year against Ohio State.
In fact, are you sure you want to back any Pac-12 team as a favorite? In the last two years, Pac-12 teams are just 28-40-1 as the favorite. None of these teams are good enough to lay points, and the team that is “supposed” to win rarely seems to pull it off.
Here is another “trend” for you: The Ducks own the Bruins. Since 2000, Oregon is 13-3 against UCLA. The Bruins have beaten the Ducks just once in the past nine meetings.
McGrath: Sure, Brown is mobile, but so is Thompson-Robinson. Compared to Brown this year, DTR has rushed for more yards (329 to 242) for more YPC (4.0 to 3.6) with a better PFF run grade (77.7 to 71.7).
But again, everything Oregon can do, UCLA can do better.
The Ducks are averaging 5.1 yards per carry? Well, the Bruins are averaging 5.3. Oregon has three players who have combined for over 1,100 yards? Well, UCLA has three guys who have combined for 1,500 yards.
Let’s look at tackling. In the most fundamental defensive aspect of the game, the Ducks rank 111th in PFF’s tackling grades while the Bruins rank 55th.
It’s awesome that the Ducks schemed up 505 yards against Ohio State, but I think Moorhead will have less success against a Bruins team that has held opponents to under 100 rushing yards per game this season.
Ianniello: I don’t know if DTR is really all that much better than Brown.
For starters, they are both pretty much even with their legs. With their arms, Thompson-Robinson has nine big-time throws and seven turnover-worthy plays this season. Brown isn’t too far behind, though, with six big-time throws and five turnover-worthy plays.
Brown’s 7.7 yards per attempt and 59.2% completion percentage is only slightly behind Thompson-Robinson’s 8.4 yards per attempt and 60.2% completion rate.
Besides, if Brown does struggle, Oregon has the added bonus of five-star freshman Ty Thompson waiting in the wings.
Pro Football Focus grades the Ducks as the 28th-ranked pass rush in the country.
Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux could be the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft, linebacker Noah Sewell has the most quarterback pressures of any linebacker in the country, and defensive tackle Brandon Dorlus has the fifth-most pressures for a defensive tackle.
That is a recipe for disaster for Thompson-Robinson, whose passing grade under pressure ranks 125th in the country. He completes just 28.6% of his passes when under pressure.
McGrath: Oregon has a decent pass rush, sure. The Ducks are also terrible in coverage (111th in PFF’s coverage grades) and cause no Havoc (107th in Defensive Havoc).
Thibodeaux is great, but he alone isn’t going to knock DTR out of his shoes. UCLA’s offense is 14th in the country in preventing Havoc, but if (hypothetically) Thompson-Robison is forced to escape the pocket, he’ll just scramble for big gains against a weak secondary.
Besides, UCLA just wants to run the football, something the Bruins will do with ease. UCLA is 29th in Offensive Line Yards, and the Ducks rank just 66th in PFF’s run defense grades.
Thibodeaux and Co. can muck up the passing game, but they’re going to get pushed around while the Bruins run for five yards per carry.
Ianniello: Bet Oregon +1
Oregon was ranked No. 3 in the country and getting College Football Playoff talk before losing in overtime, following a last-second touchdown, in a game the Ducks outgained Stanford by 60 yards without their offensive coordinator.
This line is an overreaction. Oregon is still the better team with the better coach. Tanner can back Kelly as a favorite, but I’ll take the Ducks and the points.
McGrath: Bet UCLA -1
Oregon was ranked No. 3 in the country, and then it blew a game on the road against Stanford. No excuses for that.
Now, the Ducks will go on the road again against a UCLA team coming home after two road wins. While Kelly can come up with this season’s signature win, the Ducks could easily lay another egg.
Plus, are you really going to bet on a team wearing these uniforms?
Hell yeah, the "I got stuck behind a biker who went through a mud puddle" uniformshttps://t.co/Drw9OYZjha
— Dave Rappoccio (@DrawPlayDave) October 22, 2021
The Bruins haven’t had success against Oregon in the past, but they have the better team this season. Remember: Everything Oregon can do, UCLA can do better.
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