UCLA Bruins (3-5 SU, 2-6 ATS) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (6-2 SU, 8-0 ATS)
College Football Week 10
Date/Time: Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 9PM EST
Where: Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado
TV: Fox Sports 1
By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: UCLA +11.5/COLO -11.5
Over/Under Total: 53.5
The UCLA Bruins come to Boulder to face the Colorado Buffaloes in a key Pac-12 matchup on Thursday night. UCLA is freefalling after three straight conference losses that have them sideways at 3-5 on the season and a ghastly 1-4 in the Pac-12. Colorado, meanwhile, has made major gains and finds themselves ranked at 6-2 and coming off a road win at Stanford. Can Stanford keep thriving in conference or will the Bruins start springing to life?
Those lucky enough to have identified the Buffaloes as an up-and-coming team have certainly reaped the benefits this season, with Colorado a remarkable 8-0 against the spread. One of the surprise teams in the nation, the Buffaloes lost only a close one at USC and gave Michigan a little sweat in Ann Arbor before losing. To their credit, they beat Oregon on the road, smashed Arizona State at home, before getting a huge week eight win on the road against Stanford, 10-5. We're talking about a team that labored once joining the conference, struggling to buy a win. Now they're dusting off perennial conference powers like Oregon and Stanford on the road. It's really something and a testament to this team's spirit and head coach Mike MacIntyre's vision.
Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau is back behind center after an injury kept him out of action for several games this season. The senior looks to have taken a step forward and after a long and difficult tenure at this school in the tough Pac-12, it's been palpable how hungry he is to end this on a good note. And so far, so good. His performances have been efficient and capable, not to mention clutch. He hasn't thrown a pick in 135 attempts and has been getting good support from his cast. Liufau can also scoot with his feet, adding another dimension to a good running game that features Phillip Lindsay, who has 10 touchdowns and 745 yards rushing. Kyle Evans has also added production through the air. They have nice weapons through the air with Bryce Bobo, Shay Fields, and Devin Ross. The trio have combined for 13 touchdown catches.
The Colorado defense has also been pretty good. They are adept at getting after the quarterback. They have also secured 18 turnovers and usually make a solid contribution to the overall team effort, as opposed to previous seasons when they were just there taking up space. They're allowing just 18 points a game in a conference known for offensive production. They are the nation's 10th-ranked defense in terms of yards allowed and they've been really good at taking opposing quarterbacks off their game. Giving up 5 points to a home Stanford team as they did in their last game shows a Colorado offense in fine form. It took the Buffaloes a long time and a ton of effort to get to this spot and one should expect them to not be so easily separated from this momentum and good feeling.
Whereas Colorado has been clutch and surpassed everyone's expectations this season, the Bruins have been decidedly below-average. The season opened with some promise. All things considered, they should have beaten A&M in their opener in OT, but they went on to win their next two games, including a big road win at BYU. They lost at home to Stanford before beating Arizona. But two consecutive road losses to ASU and Washington State followed, before a 52-45 loss at home to Utah in their last game. Those were all close losses, but there's only so much one can say to sugar-coat a 1-4 conference record for a Bruins team that had some hopes for this season.
While Josh Rosen was entering his sophomore season, which is usually a cause for hope, the truth was that the Bruins were facing personnel issues across most areas. And that is something that has manifested this season. Rosen has seen his season sidelined with nerve damage to his shoulder, with Mike Fafaul taking over. He has thrown 6 interceptions in two games. He did throw for 464 yards against Utah in their shootout loss with five TD strikes, but the 4 picks were the margin of difference in a one-score game.
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After having the rushing prowess of Paul Perkins, the UCLA offense can barely run the ball this season, as they've been relegated to spraying the ball around. Fafaul had 70 passing attempts in their last game. As a team, they average a ghastly 2.8 yards a run. And while they have aerial weapons like Darren Andrews, Nate Iese, Kenneth Walker, Jordan Lasley, and others, the one-dimensional nature of their offense has made it a pretty mediocre bunch. And with a middling defense, you have a rudderless UCLA team with no real identity and no real bite.
This game can play tricks on the minds of bettors. We see a consistent conference heavyweight like UCLA against a team that has been off the radar for years in Colorado. Maybe we think, even on a subconscious level, that there's something iffy about Colorado because we're not accustomed to seeing them do well. But they look to be for real—make no mistake. And sure, UCLA could put forth a good effort and let some things fly on offense. But almost nothing has gone according to plan for the Bruins this season and this seems like a strange locale and opponent for things to turn around. At the same time, their escalated aerial prowess and the big number has me leaning to the Bruins a little this week.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the UCLA Bruins plus 11.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and bettng the UCLA vs. Colorado game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!