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UCLA Bruins vs. Utah Utes Point Spread - Pick

UCLA Bruins (4-5 SU, 4-4-1 ATS) vs. Utah Utes (8-1 SU, 6-3 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Saturday, November 16, 2019 at 8PM EST
Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: Fox

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: UCLA +21/UTAH -21
Over/Under Total: 54

In Pac-12 Conference action from Salt Lake City, the UCLA Bruins take on the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday. Both teams are fresh off a one-week break and are in winning form and now rested. UCLA won its third in a row, with a 31-14 win over Colorado in their last game, as they start to see their fortunes turn around. For the highly-ranked Utes at 8-1, they have won five straight, coming off a nice 33-28 road-win at Washington in their last contest. Utah has their eyes on big things this season, but at the very least, a revived UCLA bunch stands out as a dangerous road-bump for the favored Utes.

Hats off to the Bruins for turning this around to some extent. A 4-5 record isn't reason to have a parade, but let's face it, even that seemed out-of-reach earlier in the season, where the Bruins started 1-5 and were often whipping-boys for conference opposition. But in that one 50-point half in an upset road-win over Washington State, we saw glimpses of what could be. They couldn't follow up, losing their next two. But with three straight wins in conference, all by double-digit margins, we are seeing positive signs manifesting on both sides of the ball. The offense is starting to embody Chip Kelly's vision, while the defense is at least not giving up basketball-looking scores in recent weeks.

We see Dorian Thompson-Robinson starting to take the lead and guide this UCLA offense to big things. Getting that front to play better and better protect him has been key, though it remains a potential trouble-area for the Bruins against the Utah "D" this week. Nevertheless, it's coming together and having a useful backfield doesn't hurt, with Joshua Kelley. Demetric Felton, and even DTR himself getting loose. Thompson-Robinson also connects well through the air with increasing regularity to Kyle Phillips (questionable), Devin Asiasi, Felton, and others. It's an offense that actually has pretty decent balance and depth. They can also be explosive without much notice or reason. But we've seen a more-consistent unit of late, scoring between 31-42 points in each of their last four games.

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Playing some of the more-struggling Pac-12 offenses in recent weeks like Colorado and Stanford may have them looking better than they are, but the UCLA defense hasn't been too bad lately. In their last three games, they have given up 16, 32, and 14 points, lending a definite helping hand to this latest surge. Opposing quarterbacks passing yards totals have plummeted in recent weeks compared to the feeding frenzy that ensued for the first half of the season. And they're not horrible against the run. Each week, they're getting more experience and we're seeing a much more serviceable unit as of late,

The Utes are where the Bruins are trying to be—working their way into contender status in a conference where they've sometimes been drowned out by higher-profile teams. With the Bruins, Arizona, and Colorado left on their schedule, some big things could be in the cards. They're a well-rounded team with good leadership on the field and on the sideline. Their defense is one of the best in the country. They can run the ball and play a ton of "D," In their last 5 games, they've allowed 51 points and that includes the 28 they gave up to Washington on the road in their last game.

Quarterback Tyler Huntley leads this offense and has been excellent with only one pick on the season, with an eye-popping completion percentage of 73.8%. He can also scoot and has run for four scores. The main man in that regard is Zack Moss, who has 11 touchdowns on the season. Bryan Thompson, Demari Simpkins, Brant Kuithe, Jaylen Dixon and others are reliable targets for Huntley. Behind a solid line, this might be more of a competent and efficient offense than an explosive one, but with over 33 points a game on average, they give a dominant defense enough room with which to operate.

The 28 points the Utes allowed last week to the Huskies was a bit out of character for the "D." But when you beat a good Washington team on the road and cover the spread, it's not a time to get too picky. With Bradlee Anae wreaking havoc up-front with the pass-rush and guys like Julian Blackmon making plays in the secondary, they might be the toughest "D" in the conference to play. Giving up just a scant over 12 points a game and the top rushing defense in the country, it's a tough group for even a UCLA team that has started making strides on offense. This type of arithmetic doesn't always work, but whereas UCLA allowed 63 and 32 points to Washington State and Arizona State, Utah allowed 13 and 3 points to those same teams. Just food for thought.

It's actually not an easy call, especially from an ATS standpoint. UCLA's recent spurt and the fact that they also had a week off heading into this challenging road-game gives one pause before signing off on the Utah cause. Utah might have more on the line, but UCLA is in a nice no-pressure spot where they could really put the stamp on their up-and-comer status and even start to get in position for a bowl-bid. I'm inclined to take the points in this one.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the UCLA Bruins plus 21 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the UCLA-Utah game 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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