Pac 12 College Football Picks: #9 UCLA Bruins at #16 Arizona Wildcats

#9 UCLA Bruins at #16 Arizona Wildcats
Saturday, September 26, 2015, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Arizona Stadium – Tucson, Arizona
Opening Line: UCLA -3
Current Line: UCLA -2
Opening Total: 64
Current Total: 65
Opening Money Line: UCLA -155 / Arizona +135
Current Money Line: UCLA -130 / Arizona +110

Arizona and UCLA open PAC 12 play in a battle of ranked teams.
Arizona and UCLA open PAC 12 play in a battle of ranked teams.

The Pac 12 South is wide open with five teams having a realistic shot of winning the Division. It is showdown Saturday in the Pac 12 as six of the conference’s seven best teams face off against each other including the aforementioned five teams. The #9 UCLA Bruins travel to Tucson to face the #16 Arizona Wildcats Saturday. Both teams are 3-0 this season and this is the conference opener for both schools.

UCLA leads the series 22-15-2 against Arizona, but the Wildcats are 11-9 in Tucson against the Bruins. UCLA has won three straight games in the series, including 17-7 last year in Pasadena.

UCLA is coached by Jim Mora, Jr. The Bruins have home wins over Virginia 34-16 and last week against BYU 24-23, along with a road win at UNLV 37-3. BYU kicked a field goal to take a 23-17 lead with just over five minutes left in the fourth. UCLA drove down the field and scored the go ahead touchdown with 2:18 left. BYU threw an interception on their final drive and the Bruins ran out the clock to seal the win. UCLA was a 16.5 point favorite against BYU and the total was 57.5. UCLA is 1-1-1 ATS and the total is 0-3 this season.

Arizona is coached by Rich Rodriguez.  The Wildcats have home wins over Texas-San Antonio 42-32 and last week against Northern Arizona 77-13, along with a road win at Nevada 44-20. Arizona easily covered the 34.5 point spread against Northern Arizona and the total was 62. The Wildcats racked up almost 800 yards in total offense against the overmatched Lumberjacks. Arizona is 2-1 ATS and the total is 3-0 this season.

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UCLA is outscoring teams 32-14 this season. The Bruins are #16 in points allowed nationally. UCLA is averaging 477 yards per game on offense, including 237 passing and 240 rushing yards. The Bruins are #34 or better in total and rushing offense. On defense, UCLA is allowing 326 total yards including 179 passing and 147 rushing yards. The Bruins are #38 nationally in both total and pass defense. UCLA has forced four turnovers this season but has six of their own. The Bruins average 77 penalty yards per game and opponents average 55 yards per game. UCLA is 18/46 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 16/55. The Bruins have forced seven sacks and haven’t allowed any. UCLA is 12/16 scoring in the red zone with 7 touchdowns and opponents are 7/8 with 3 touchdowns. UCLA has a pick six this season.

Quarterback Josh Rosen has completed 61% of his passes for 680 yards with 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Running back Paul Perkins has 58 carries for 429 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 7 catches for 82 yards. Nate Starks has 13 carries for 116 yards. Bolu Olorunfunmi and Soso Jamabo will also get some carries.

Receiver Jordan Payton has 12 catches for 183 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury. Thomas Duarte has 8 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Nate Iese has 5 catches for 73 yards. Devin Fuller has 7 catches for 46 yards and a touchdown. Mossi Johnson has 8 catches for 41 yards.

Three defensive players are out for the season, including star linebacker Myles Jack who suffered a knee injury in practice this week. Jack also moonlights as a short yardage running back and had a rushing touchdown.

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Arizona is outscoring teams 54-22 this season. The Wildcats are #3 in scoring nationally. Arizona averages 585 yards per game on offense, including 264 passing and 321 rushing yards. The Wildcats are #7 nationally in both total and rushing offense. On defense, Arizona is allowing 399 total yards including 254 passing and 145 rushing. The Wildcats are #81 or worse in total and passing defense. Arizona has forced 6 turnovers and has 2 of their own. The Wildcats average 52 penalty yards per game and opponents average 91 yards per game. Arizona is 17/44 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 23/60. The Wildcats have forced 6 sacks and allowed 4 this season. Arizona is 15/18 scoring in the red zone with 15 touchdowns and opponents are 9/10 with 5 touchdowns. The Wildcats have two defensive touchdowns.

Quarterback Anu Solomon has completed 68.3% of his passes for 778 yards with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. He has also rushed for 43 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. Back-up quarterback Jarrard Randall has only thrown 3 passes, but he does have 6 carries for 209 yards with 3 touchdowns.

Running back Nick Wilson has 62 carries for 434 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 2 catches for 30 yards. Jared Baker has 17 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown.

Receiver David Richards has 14 catches for 203 yards and 3 touchdowns. Cayleb Jones has 11 catches for 172 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with an undisclosed injury. Johnny Jackson has 13 catches for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns. Nate Phillips has 11 catches for 104 yards with a touchdown. Samajie Grant has 9 catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. He is questionable with an undisclosed injury. Receivers Tyrell Johnson and Trey Griffey are both out indefinitely.

Six defensive players are listed on the injury report. Star linebacker Scooby Wright III is probable to return from a partially torn meniscus suffered in the opener against UTSA.

UCLA is 4-1 ATS against teams with winning home records, 5-2-1 overall, and 3-9-1 after passing for less than 170 yards. The under is 5-2 overall in this series and 5-2-1 in Tucson between the teams.

Arizona is 4-1 ATS after a straight up win, 19-39 after rushing for more than 200 yards, 2-5 after allowing less than 20 points, 2-6 after an ATS win, and in September, 2-7 at home, 2-10 on grass, and 1-7 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards. The favorite is 7-1 ATS in this series recently and the home team has covered 9 of the last 12 games in the series. The Wildcats are 5-1 ATS in Tucson against the Bruins recently.

UCLA needs to cut down on the penalties and turnovers. Arizona has struggled to stop the pass against weaker competition. However, UCLA is more of a rushing team so I don’t think the Bruins will be able exploit that weakness. I think Arizona wins a close game at home in a low scoring game.

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