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Utah at UCLA Gambling Preview - who has the edge in a crucial Pac-12 showdown

Each week Torres Online college football wrter Jake Faigus will preview a big games that we don't get to in Aaron Torres' weekly picks.

Today, that game is the fascinating matchup between Alabama and Arkansas in Fayetteville. The Crimson Tide are ranked near the top of the polls, but have struggled on the road of late. Can the Hogs pull the upset?

No. 11 Utah at No. 18 UCLA

Spread: Utah (-3.5)

Over/under: 64.5

Utah visits UCLA this week after easily beating Oregon State last week in Salt Lake City. UCLA also is coming off a win after holding off Washington at home last week in a dramatic game. Utah won in a blowout last year, but at home. This has a chance to be a great matchup in Los Angeles.

Utah is a 3.5-point road favorite and is at -175 on the money line in the BetFred SportsBook. The over/under is also at 64.5. The spread is low because oddsmakers are banking on a close game, even with the odds siding with a road favorite. Utah is the better team, but a road game here could be difficult. The over/under being at 64.5 makes sense because Utah and UCLA both average over 40 points a game, so there’s a chance of a shootout here. Utah has the better defense in this game, and the Bruins have improved there too, but the total seems right still.

My pick here is Utah -3.5. I’ve loved Utah all year up to this point based on what they’ve been able to do, especially in response to that heartbreaking loss to Florida. No game has been that close since the loss, and it feels like the Utes are on a mission to win out because of that loss. Utah’s calling card under Kyle Whittingham has been all about defense, but this year the offense has come on very strong. Cam Rising and Tavion Thomas lead the offense in the backfield and have helped it average 42 points and 454 yards a game. They’ve also averaged over 200 passing and rushing yards apiece. The balance is the key here. Utah’s defense is still a difference-maker too and is only giving up 14 points and 279 yards a game up to this point. UCLA has been led by its offense up to this point, with the trio of Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Zach Charbonnet, and Jake Bobo putting up great numbers so far. The offense is scoring an average of 41 points and gaining an average of 506 total yards a game. The defense of the Bruins has been improved, but is still not great, and it’s averaging 21 points and 318 total yards given up a game. The difference here for me is the UCLA defense. I like the Utes in this game because the Utah offense has improved a lot and I just don’t think the Bruins will be able to do much against them on defense.

The biggest key to this game is what Cam Rising can do against the UCLA secondary and pass defense. Cam Rising has been great so far this year with him having 1,153 passing yards, 13 passing touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also has a 68% completion percentage on the year. His best game was against Arizona State when he had 260 passing yards and two touchdowns. The UCLA passing defense, on the other hand, has been good at points in the season, but not great at all. Its worst game was last week when Washington threw for 345 yards against the Bruins. Rising has done nothing but make the Utes better since he took over last year, and is easily the key here, even more than Tavion Thomas. UCLA needs to do something to contain him to have a chance here.


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