College Football Odds & Preview – California Golden Bears at UCLA Bruins
The California Golden Bears have been through a season of transition, as they have moved from one style of play to another. So all things considered, they can go into their final regular-season game eligible for a bowl, they will gladly accept that. And they have a team in front of them that is going through some changes as well. So it is with some optimism that they will visit the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for a date against the UCLA Bruins on Friday night at 10:30 PM ET. BetAnySports customers will have the opportunity to get reduced juice on this game, allowing them to avoid laying the customary -110, and after kickoff, they can engage in real-time wagering courtesy of Live Betting Ultra.
California made the switch from Sonny Dykes to Justin Wilcox in the head-coaching position, and they got a little more of a hard-nosed approach. Wilcox was the defensive coordinator at USC in 2014 and 2015, then moved to Wisconsin last season, so he had experience at top-level programs. His objective was to improve the defensive side of the football and emphasize the ground attack more. He has done that to some extent, but when you go from a team that used the “Bear Raid” approach, with Davis Webb throwing the football all over the place, to one where you’re trying to balance things out, it is a process. Cal got some good results early, beating North Carolina on the road, as well as Ole Miss in Berkeley, but generally the Pac 12 conference schedule has not been friendly to them. There have been some bright moments, including a 37-3 victory over Washington State in which they forced seven turnovers, but their effort against Arizona back on October 21, in which they lost a 45-44 decision, was not pretty, as they allowed 345 rushing yards. The Bears are 5-6 straight-up and 7-4 against the football pointspread.
UCLA is also 5-6 straight-up, but they been a disappointment to their backers, going 4-7 ATS. It is clear that more was expected out of this crew, especially after coming all the way back to defeat Texas A&M 45-44 in the opener, and considering that they had perhaps the best quarterback in the country in Josh Rosen. Even though Rosen has, to an extent, held up his end of the bargain (3515 yards, 62% accuracy), there is almost no overcoming bad defense. And that is exactly what the Bruins have had, as they are next to last in the country in stopping the run. This kind of thing was unacceptable to the administration, which finally pulled the trigger and fired Jim Mora this past week. They felt strongly enough about it that they gave him the axe on his birthday, one day after a loss to USC in the annual crosstown rivalry game. And they are ponying up $12 million to buy him out of his contract. Jedd Fisch, the offensive coordinator, will take over on interim basis.
Obviously with both teams sitting with five wins, the victor will get a bowl bid.
In the college football betting odds posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, UCLA is favored by a touchdown:
UCLA Bruins -7
California Golden Bears +7
Over 64 points -110
Under 64 points -110
Here’s the skinny as far as UCLA’s ability to stop opposing running backs – they have allowed a whopping 3176 rushing yards and 5.7 yards an attempt, and that is one of the reasons they’ve surrendered 37.6 points per game. They have given up at least 250 yards on the ground seven times, and when you come in to a job as a “defensive mind,” as Mora did, you really don’t have a leg to stand on when that happens.
Patrick Laird may be in a position to exploit UCLA’s weakness; he has rush for 949 yards this season and almost six yards per carry. The former walk-on has 367 yards in his last two games. Now what they have to do is get a near error-free game out of quarterback Russ Bowers, who has been intercepted a dozen times, although he’s been picked off only four times in his last seven games.
Darren Andrews, who has caught 60 passes for the Bruins, will miss this game, so Fisch, who is known as a creative play-caller, will have his work cut out for him. California won last year’s meeting 36-10, with 34 first downs to only eleven for UCLA. The dynamic is different this season, but we do not trust the Bruins, who lack fundamentals. Therefore, we are taking the points with Cal in this Pac 12 matchup.
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