UCLA BRUINS (5-1)
at OREGON DUCKS (7-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Oregon -22, Total: 70
Two of the best quarterbacks in all of college football take the field on Saturday night as Brett Hundley leads No. 12 UCLA into Eugene to take on Marcus Mariota and No. 2 Oregon.
These two teams did not match up last season since they are in different divisions in the Pac-12, but Oregon won two seasons ago 49-31 in the Pac-12 Championship game. UCLA is coming off a tough 24-10 loss to Stanford last week, but still has plenty of talent to bounce back, led by its dynamic quarterback. Hundley struggled against the Cardinal (192 pass yards, 1 TD, 2 INT), but remains a real threat to make plays with both his arm and feet. Stanford did a great job of pressuring Hundley all game, never allowing him to get into any kind of rhythm. However, he was not helped out by the rushing attack, as the Bruins ran the ball 27 times for only 74 yards. This ground game needs to improve greatly, not only to help Hundley, but to keep the Oregon offense off the field. Marcus Mariota has been incredible for the Ducks this season. Through seven games this year, he has accounted for 28 touchdowns, (19 passing, nine rushing) while only turning the ball over one time (lost fumble). Mariota has done this despite playing an entire game only one time this season, as the Ducks are winning by an average of 40.3 PPG. Both clubs suffered their first ATS losses of the season last week, but UCLA usually thrives in high-scoring affairs, going 8-1 ATS (89%) when the total is at least 63 points in the past two seasons. However, Oregon has been very profitable against great teams, going 11-2 ATS (85%) against teams with a winning percentage of at least 75% over the past three years.
Can the Ducks cover another huge spread against a quality UCLA team? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The four experts are a combined 58% ATS (82-60-5) in college football Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary who is 72% ATS (13-5-1) in college football Best Bets over the past six weeks and 64% ATS (14-8-1) this year. StatFox Brian is 9-3 ATS in the past two weeks and 61% ATS (20-13-1) in Best Bets this season, while StatFox Dave is 57% ATS (26-20-1) and StatFox Scott is 54% ATS (22-19-2) for yearly CFB Best Bets.
Last week was a big disappointment for the Bruins, but not all is lost. They were on the road against a very talented Stanford team that was stinging from an upset loss to Utah the week before. For UCLA, there is still plenty of talent on the team. The Bruins rank 21st in the nation in scoring offense (39.8 PPG) and 18th in points allowed (19.2 PPG). QB Brett Hundley (1,661 pass yards, 8.4 YPA, 13 TD, 6 INT) has a big-time talent at the receiver position in Shaquelle Evans (24 rec., 319 yards, 5 TD). At 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, he is very difficult to guard, as he is fast enough to run by people, but is also able to go over the middle and make the big catch. He is Hundley’s security blanket on third downs, and must have a big game. Junior RB Jordon James (463 rush yards, 6.3 YPC, 5 TD) has propelled a quality ground game this year (199 YPG, 38th in FBS), and his absence over the past two weeks due to an ankle injury has really hurt, as the Bruins have rushed for a meager 152 yards on 61 carries (2.5 YPC) with their top rusher out. James is considered questionable to return for this game. Last week against Stanford, the offense was only 5-of-15 on third downs, and that has to increase to help out star LB Anthony Barr (35 tackles, 4 sacks) and the rest of the UCLA defense. Barr is a superb athlete that has incredible speed for a guy his size, but if his unit has to stay on the field too long, the Ducks will get rolling.
With Chip Kelly leaving for the NFL, some wondered if Oregon's incredible success the past few seasons would leave with him. However, just the opposite has happened. The Ducks are still playing at an elite level on offense (57.6 PPG, 2nd in FBS; 576 total YPG, 3rd in nation). As excellent as this team has been through the air with QB Marcus Mariota throwing for 2,051 yards (10.4 YPA), 19 TD and 0 INT, the ground game continues to baffle opponents with 332 YPG (2nd in nation). Mariota (493 rush yards, 10.1 YPC, 9 TD) and RBs Byron Marshall (746 rush yards, 6.7 YPA, 9 TD), Thomas Tyner (360 rush yards, 6.7 YPA, 7 TD) and De'Anthony Thomas (338 rush yards, 8.0 YPA, 6 TD) are all excellent ball carriers. The Oregon defense has also been impressive this season (17.3 PPG, 12th in nation), but allowed 38 points and 557 passing yards on 89 attempts in last week's 62-38 win over Washington State. Ducks CB Terrance Mitchell (4 INT) has emerged as a star, and has helped his team force a whopping 21 turnovers in seven contests. In last week’s win, Mitchell took back an interception for a 51-yard touchdown. If the defense continues to play at such a high level, then this team will be nearly impossible to beat.