Pac 12 Betting Picks: UCLA Bruins at #13 Utah Utes

UCLA Bruins at #13 Utah Utes
Rice-Eccles Stadium – Salt Lake City, Utah
Saturday, November 21, 2015, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
Opening Line: Utah -2
Current Line: Utah -3 (-115)
Opening Total: 59 1/2
Current Total: 56 1/2
Opening Money Line: Utah -145 / UCLA +125
Current Money Line: Utah -145 / UCLA +125

Utah hosts UCLA Saturday. Both teams can still win the Pac 12 South title.
Utah hosts UCLA Saturday. Both teams can still win the Pac 12 South title.

The Utah Utes were upset last week at the Arizona Wildcats. The loss not only ended the Utes’ slim hopes of a playoff spot, but created a three team race for the Pac 12 South title. The 8-2 Utes no longer control their own destiny for a spot in the Pac 12 Championship game.

Utah is tied with 5-2 USC, and both teams are ahead of 4-3 UCLA. Utah hosts 7-3 UCLA Saturday. Even if the Utes win their two remaining games against UCLA and Colorado, they still need USC to lose at least one of their two remaining games. USC travels to Oregon this week and hosts UCLA next week. Both the Bruins and Trojans will clinch the title with two wins.

UCLA leads the series 10-3 overall, but the series is tied 2-2 since Utah joined the Pac 12 five seasons ago. The past three meetings have been decided by a total of 16 points. Utah won 30-28 last year in Pasadena.

UCLA is coached by Jim Mora, Jr. The Bruins have home losses to Arizona State 38-23 and last week to Washington State 31-27, along with a road loss at Stanford 56-35. UCLA has home wins over Virginia 34-16, BYU 24-23, California 40-24, and Colorado 35-31, along with road wins at UNLV 37-3, Arizona 56-30 and Oregon State 41-0. The Washington State loss snapped a three game winning streak for the Bruins.

UCLA was an 11.5 point favorite against Washington State and the total was 66. The Bruins took a slim 16-14 lead into halftime, but the Cougars would take a 21-16 lead into the fourth. After both teams exchanged field goals in the fourth quarter, UCLA scored with just over a minute left on a 37 yard touchdown run from quarterback Josh Rosen. The Bruins converted for two points to lead 27-24. After a touchback on the kickoff, WSU drove all the way down for the game winning touchdown pass from 21 yards with 3 seconds left. The two teams combined for just under 1,000 total yards. UCLA had 2 of the game’s 3 turnovers. The Bruins are 4-5-1 ATS and the total is 3-7 overall.

Utah is coached by Kyle Whittingham. The Utes have road losses at USC 42-24 and Arizona 37-30 in double overtime last week. Utah has home wins over Michigan 24-17, Utah State 24-14, California 30-24, Arizona State 34-18 and Oregon State 27-12, along with road wins at Fresno State 45-24, Oregon 62-20 and Washington 34-23.

Utah was a 5.5 point favorite against Arizona and the total was 61. Arizona led by 10 points three times in the first half but would lead 20-17 at halftime. Utah took a 27-20 lead in the third quarter, but Arizona tied it up at 27 with four minutes left in the third. Neither team scored again in regulation. Both teams exchanged field goals in the first overtime. Arizona scored a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the second overtime. Utah was unable to score as Arizona snapped a three game losing streak, knocking the Utes out of a potential playoff bid in the process. Each team had over 440 total yards but also had 2 turnovers apiece. Utah is 5-5 ATS and the total is 6-4 this season.

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UCLA is outscoring teams 35-25 this season. The Bruins are #32 in scoring nationally. UCLA is averaging 498 yards per game on offense, including 299 passing and 199 rushing yards. The Bruins are #35 or better in all three categories. On defense, UCLA is allowing 400 total yards including 218 passing and 182 rushing yards. UCLA has forced 16 turnovers this season but has 14 of their own. The Bruins average 77 penalty yards per game and opponents average 48 yards per game. UCLA is 77/164 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 75/192. The Bruins have forced 24 sacks and have allowed 10 this season. UCLA is 44/49 scoring in the red zone with 29 touchdowns and opponents are 30/36 with 19 touchdowns. UCLA has 2 pick sixes this season, and has allowed 2 defensive touchdowns.

Quarterback Josh Rosen has completed 61.1% of his passes for 2,904 yards with 18 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and also has 2 rushing touchdowns. Jerry Neuheisel, Mike Fafaul and Jake Hall have all taken a few snaps as well.

Running back Paul Perkins has 180 carries for 1,082 yards and 10 touchdowns, along with 21 catches for 194 yards and a touchdown. Soso Jamabo has 61 carries for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 4 catches. Nate Starks has 41 carries for 256 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is questionable with a concussion. Bolu Olorunfunmi has 34 carries for 200 yards, plus 2 catches.

Receiver Jordan Payton has 64 catches for 904 yards and 4 touchdowns. Thomas Duarte has 44 catches for 696 yards and 8 touchdowns. Darren Andrews has 30 catches for 341 yards and a touchdown. Devin Fuller has 22 catches for 233 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is probable with a concussion. Nate Iese has 10 catches for 87 yards.  Mossi Johnson has 8 catches for 41 yards, but is out for the season with a knee injury. Another receiver Tyler Scott is also out for the season with a knee injury.

Four defensive players are listed on the injury report, including star linebacker Myles Jack who suffered a knee injury and withdrew from school to prepare for the NFL draft. Jack also moonlighted as a short yardage running back and had a rushing touchdown.

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Utah is outscoring teams 33-23 this season. The Utes are #40 in scoring and #44 nationally in points allowed this season. Utah averages 389 yards per game on offense, including 205 passing and 184 rushing. The Utes are #90 out of 128 teams in passing offense. On defense, Utah is allowing 375 total yards including 256 passing and 119 rushing yards. The Utes are #99 in pass defense but #17 in rush defense. The Utes have forced 25 turnovers and have 16 of their own. Utah averages 48 penalty yards and opponents average 54. Utah is 75/168 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 63/161. The Utes have forced 26 sacks and allowed 16 this season. Utah is 34/36 scoring in the red zone with 23 touchdowns and opponents are 31/37 with 20 touchdowns. The Utes have six defensive/special teams touchdowns.

Quarterback Travis Wilson had has thrown for 1,806 yards with 12 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, and has rushed 367 yards on 95 carries for 6 touchdowns. Kendal Thompson has thrown for 220 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and had rushed for 60 yards on 18 carries with 2 touchdowns. Chase Hansen is out for the season with a leg injury.

Running back Devontae Booker has 268 carries for 1,261 yards and 11 touchdowns, and has 37 catches for 318 yards. Booker also has a touchdown pass. He had knee surgery for a torn meniscus and is out for the regular season. He could return for the bowl game, especially if the Utes play in January. Look for Joe Williams to get most of the carries, but he only has 19 carries for 78 yards, plus 5 catches.  Running backs Troy McCormick and Marcel Brooks-Brown are both out for the season.

Receiver Britain Covey has 41 catches for 518 yards and 4 touchdowns. Kenneth Scott has 33 catches for 403 yards and 3 touchdowns. Harrison Handley has 15 catches for 210 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tyrone Smith has 15 catches for 152 yards. Tight end Siale Fakailoatonga has 12 catches for 120 yards but is out for the season. Another tight end Evan Moeai is also out for the season. Receiver Tim Patrick is out for the season as well.

UCLA is 5-1 ATS after failing to cover, 4-1 in road games, 5-2 against teams with winning home records and in November, 5-2-1 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, 3-8 after passing for 280 yards or more, 1-3-1 after rushing for 200 yards or more, and 1-5-1 after allowing more than 280 passing yards. The last four games in this series have gone under the total.

Utah is 4-0 ATS after allowing more than 280 passing yards, 4-1 after failing to cover, 8-2 after rushing for 200 yards or more, 11-4 against teams with winning records, 2-5 after a straight up loss, at home and against teams with winning road records, and 1-4 after allowing more than 450 total yards. The Utes have covered four of the last five games against the Bruins.

Booker was such a huge part of the Utah offense, and his loss will hurt immensely. The offense wasn’t exactly spectacular even with Booker. Still, I think the Utes win at home in the altitude of Salt Lake City in a close low scoring game.

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