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UCLA Bruins vs. Stanford Cardinal Point Spread - Pick

UCLA Bruins (1-5 SU, 1-4-1 ATS) vs. Stanford Cardinal (3-3 SU, 2-4 ATS)
College Football Week 8
Date/Time: Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 9PM EDT
Where: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: UCLA +10/STAN -10
Over/Under Total: 54

The UCLA Bruins make the trip up north to take on the Stanford Cardinal in Pac-12 action on Thursday night in week 8 of the college football season. The two teams each had last week off, a welcome break after a frenetic and punishing start to the season for each squad. The Cardinal, groping for something to grab a hold of, finally found it when they came out of their doldrums to score a most-unexpected 23-13 win over Washington in their last game, winning by ten as two-touchdown underdogs. At 2-2 now in conference, they now look to make a push. And getting a week off, followed by getting a 1-5 UCLA team at home might be the right medicine. Before their week off, the Bruins lost by 17 to Oregon State, so they have their share of issues, losing two straight since exploding and shocking Washington State in their only win of the season.

This conference will drive anyone crazy. Personally, I didn't think Stanford was going to hang in there very well against the Huskies, but never mind that—they dominated the game. The same team that could barely scrape by Oregon State and was coming off of three other massive butt-whippings, took it to a ranked Huskies team. A secondary that couldn't stop a nosebleed with coagulant and a box of towels suddenly had Jacob Eason in knots, forcing him to his worst game of the season. Stanford backup quarterback Davis Mills was operating the offense smoothly and before you knew it, they were looking like the old Stanford—stoutness and big plays on defense along with efficient QB play bolstered by a big ground-game.

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We'll now see after showing life if the Cardinal will come down to reality—and if they'll do it as harshly as UCLA did. They were looking awful and not delivering at the betting window when suddenly, they put up 50 in one half in a freakish explosion of offense against a ranked Washington St. team on the road, winning a thriller, 67-63. While one could have expected a cool-down the next week and they were competitive, a 20-17 loss to Arizona cooled their heels. Perhaps a little road-weary, falling by 17 at home to a not-so-good Oregon State team was another troubling development in a season full of them.

We're going a little early posting this, so the injury component is one that needs to be addressed, especially with it involving quarterbacks. Stanford's starting QB KJ Costello and now even Mills are both listed as questionable after suffering a calf injury against Washington. UCLA's Dorian Thompson-Robinson missed the Oregon State game with an ankle injury and it is unknown if the week off was enough. The break came at the right time, but as both teams try to right the ship, having multiple injuries in key positions doesn't help.

The problems for UCLA are really enormous. That detonation of offense against Washington State was nice. It shows that they aren't always going to lie down and that they can sometimes find answers. They have some talent on offense with DTR at quarterback, some good running backs in Joshua Kelley and Demetric Felton, with a lot of talented ball-catchers. Players like Felton are coming around in this offense. But that line is pretty substandard for this conference and the level of play is so inconsistent across all areas of this offense.

Most of the time, the UCLA offense just falls flat, interspersed with little flashes of what this Chip Kelly offense is supposed to look like. The real issues are on the other side of the ball. Not to denigrate the UCLA "D," as they have been plucky in spots, but they can look rough a lot of the time and it's hard to cover spreads that way, as backers of UCLA have seen this season. Opposing teams average 340 yards per game through the air against this bunch. And the run-defense doesn't provide much relief, either. In the last four games, they've given up an average of just under 45 points per game and that's even including the 20 they gave up to Arizona a few weeks ago.

What exactly Stanford can do about it remains to be seen. One could look at their last game a few ways. They're hoping it was a sign of a turnaround—that their initial plans for the season are starting to materialize. It could just be that Washington is overrated and mails in a clunker more often than they used to. Or maybe this is just too wacky of a conference to try to reason with. Weekly, there are multiple results that simply do not add up logically. How the Stanford secondary managed to look like a very good unit after what we had seen was most bemusing. It stood to reason that even with Mills in there, the Cardinal offense would eventually turn over. Cameron Scarlett got rolling with a really big day on the ground after a slow start to the season. They do in fact have some talented ball-catchers, guys who had developed a good rapport with Costello and they showed their fangs against the Huskies, as well.

It's just that as you run down in your mind the numerous drawbacks with the Bruins, it would be wise to view that in relation to the opponent because Stanford fails to stack up in a lot of areas. On a given day, that offense can stall out in a big way. UCLA has some speedsters and while it was nice to see Stanford put the clamp on Washington, they've looked pretty bad for most of the season. So how do you view this Stanford "D?" Based on their track record, they're pretty bad this season. But did allowing 13 points to Washington, followed by a week off maybe help them turn the page? That's probably the key to this game.

Let's face it—this game could go a few different ways and not register much shock at all, particularly in this conference. Stanford is at home and facing a nice opportunity to go above .500, both in the Pac-12 and overall. Then, they could make a push at least at making this a respectable season—something that seemed unattainable a few weeks ago. I see one of three things happening—UCLA explodes and beats Stanford, UCLA sort of hangs in there but still loses by 7-14, or Stanford gets some separation late and cruises to an easy win. That all adds up to me taking the Cardinal in this one. I'm going with Stanford on Thursday.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Stanford Cardinal minus 10 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on games at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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