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UCLA vs. Arizona: College football betting picks, odds and analysis

UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, left, talks to an official during the first half.
UCLA coach Chip Kelly talks to an official during last week's loss to Arizona State. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

UCLA dropped to 1-1 in the Pac-12 and 3-2 overall with its 42-23 loss to Arizona State last Saturday, but the Bruins have a great chance to get back on track when they visit the winless Arizona Wildcats (0-4) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Tucson.

Las Vegas oddsmakers opened UCLA as a 16-point road favorite and the line has held pretty steady all week. The Over/Under has also been solid at 61 points.

VSiN’s Dave Tuley breaks down the game and says it might be better to look at the total or other props tied to a lower-scoring game (especially for lowly Arizona).

UCLA Bruins (-16, O/U 61) at Arizona Wildcats

This is one of those tough point spreads we see a lot, especially in college football, when it’s a clear mismatch. The oddsmakers have the Bruins favored by 16 points, which makes sense as Chip Kelly’s offense is averaging 35.4 points while Arizona is averaging just 17 points. Granted, that’s not the only thing oddsmakers take into account when setting a line but it’s close enough.

The problem for bettors is that those who want to bet UCLA are probably not comfortable laying 16 points after the Bruins have lost two of their last three games (and one was as a double-digit favorite vs. Fresno State. And those that are considering taking Arizona probably wish they were getting more points for an 0-4 team, though the Wildcats did cover as 13.5-point underdogs in a 24-16 loss to Brigham Young and as 30-point dogs in a 41-19 loss vs. Oregon.

When I’m handicapping a game, I like to figure out the projected score, which I do by subtracting the spread from the Over/Under (61-16 in this case, which equals 45) and then dividing that by two (45/2 equals 22.5). We then add the spread back to the favorite and get a projected score of UCLA 38.5, Arizona 22.5.

Now, my gut reaction to those numbers is that Arizona’s projection is too high. As stated above, the Wildcats average only 17 points. Granted, UCLA allows 28.6 points per game (again, it makes sense that those come out to an average of 22.8 points); however, UCLA’s stats were accumulated against MUCH, MUCH better offenses in Hawaii, LSU, Fresno State, Stanford and Arizona State. Arizona’s offensive production is even worse when you factor in that they were beaten by the FCS’ Northern Arizona 21-19.

Even though the Bruins should be able to name their score, I don’t see Arizona contributing enough to reach this high total of 61 points. Along those same lines, if you have a book that offers Over/Under team totals, I’d recommend Under on Arizona (again, should be around 22.5), but since the Wildcats haven’t scored 20 points in any game yet this season, I’d go under anything at 20 or above.

Pick: Under 61 and Under Arizona team total

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.