#11 UCLA Bruins at #15 Arizona State Sun Devils
Sun Devil Stadium – Tempe, Arizona
Thursday, September 25, 2014, 10:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox Sports 1
Opening Line: UCLA -3
Current Line: UCLA -4
Opening Total: 60
Current Total: 60 1/2
Opening Money Line: UCLA -181 / Arizona State +164
Current Money Line: UCLA -180 / Arizona State +160
For the past three seasons the winner of the game between the UCLA Bruins and Arizona State Sun Devils has decided the Pac 12 South Division title. This year the two schools play against each other Thursday night in Tempe, but it is still a crucial contest between two top 15 schools.
UCLA leads the series 18-11-1 against Arizona State including 8-5 in Tempe. The Sun Devils won last year’s meeting 38-33 in Pasadena to clinch a berth in the Pac 12 Championship game.
UCLA is coached by Jim Mora, Jr. The Bruins are 3-0 but all three games have been decided by a single possession. UCLA won at Virginia 28-20, beat Memphis at home 42-35, before beating Texas 20-17 in Arlington, Texas two weeks ago. The Bruins were off last week. UCLA is 0-3 ATS and the total is 1-2. UCLA was an 8.5 point favorite against Texas and the total was 50.5.
Arizona State is coached by Todd Graham. The Sun Devils are 3-0 this season with a home win over Weber State 45-14 plus road wins at New Mexico 58-23 and two weeks ago at Colorado 38-24. ASU was also off last week. The Sun Devils are 1-2 ATS and the total is 1-2 as well. Arizona State was a 15.5 point favorite at Colorado and the total was 68.5.
UCLA is outscoring teams 30-24. The Bruins are averaging 447 yards per game including 288 passing and 159 rushing. On defense, UCLA is allowing 392 yards per game including 256 passing and 137 rushing. UCLA is -1 in turnovers with 3 takeaways. The Bruins average 74 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 60. UCLA is 24/56 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 24/59. The Bruins have forced 3 sack and allowed 12 this season. UCLA is 7/7 scoring in the red zone with 6 touchdowns and opponents are 8/9 with 5 touchdowns. The Bruins have three defensive scores this season, all against Virginia and have allowed 3 this season.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has completed 70.4% of his passes for 686 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception, along with 29 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown. He is questionable with an elbow injury suffered in the Texas game. If Hundley can’t go, Jerry Neuheisel will start. Neuheisel took over for Hundley against Texas. Neuheisel threw for 178 yards with 2 touchdowns including the game winner with 3:00 minutes left. Running back Paul Perkins has 63 carries for 304 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 9 catches for 80 yards. Jordan Payton has 19 catches for 266 yards and a touchdown. Thomas Duarte has 9 catches for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns. Linebacker Myles Jack who also doubles as a running back on occasion is probable with an ankle injury. Three offensive linemen are questionable or out for the Bruins.
Arizona State is outscoring teams 47-20 this season. The Sun Devils are #7 in scoring nationally. Arizona State is averaging 539 yards per game including 235 passing yards and 304 rushing yards. The Sun Devils are #13 in total offense and #12 in rushing nationally. On defense, ASU is allowing 397 total yards per game including 200 passing and 197 rushing yards. The Sun Devils are +5 in turnovers with 6 takeaways. ASU averages 40 penalty yards per game and opponents average 74. The Sun Devils are 22/46 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 19/53. Arizona State has forced 6 sacks and allowed 4 this season.
Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly injured his foot against Colorado and is out indefinitely. Back-up Mike Bercovici is supposed to start in place of Kelly but some sites are reporting Bercovici is out for undisclosed reasons. I can’t find anything to substantiate if Bercovici will play or not, so take it with a grain of salt. If Bercovici can’t go freshman Coltin Gerhart will be the starter. Kelly has thrown for 625 yards with 6 touchdowns, and also has 19 carries for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bercovici has thrown for 79 yards and a touchdown, along with 12 rushing yards.
Running back D.J. Foster has 54 carries for 510 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 11 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown. Kalen Ballage has 3 rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown. Receiver Jaelen Strong has 19 catches for 266 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cameron Smith has 7 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. Five defensive players are questionable or out for the Sun Devils.
UCLA is 6-2 ATS against teams with winning home records, 3-7 after a bye week, 2-5 in Thursday games, and 4-10 after allowing less than 20 points. The last 4 games have gone over the total in this series. The Bruins are 8-3 ATS in the last 11 games against the Sun Devils.
Arizona State is 4-0 ATS after a bye week, 2-6 after allowing 280 passing yards or more, 1-4 overall and on grass, and 0-4 after allowing more than 200 rushing yards. The home team is 5-2 ATS in this series recently.
Both teams have questions at the quarterback spot. Neither team has been great on defense, so this should be a high-scoring game. Hundley is listed as questionable but reports are that he will play. Arizona State could be down to the third string quarterback and a freshman at that. I think the Bruins win a close game on the road.