PAC 12 action here as the Arizona Wildcats travel to take on the UCLA Bruins in Los Angeles. Both teams have high profile head coaches in their first years with the school, Kevin Sumlin for Arizona and Chip Kelly for UCLA. Neither has started their tenures the way they would’ve wanted, and both coaches desperately need a win here. It should be a fun one, with oddsmakers installing the Bruins as seven point favorites.
Khalil Tate Banged Up
Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate was seen by many as a dark-horse Heisman candidate coming into the season, but his 2018 hasn’t gone the way anyone envisioned. He’s been injured most of the year, and although he’s shown admirable grit in playing through the injuries, they’ve greatly impacted his play.
The Wildcats have limped to a 3-4 record, in large part due to Tate’s injuries. He’s been knocked out of multiple games this year, and Sumlin is currently saying he’s unsure if Tate will be able to suit up against Arizona. Sumlin reportedly said he “doesn’t want to keep repeating the scenario where Tate plays and gets hurt”, so it sounds like they may sit him if he’s not 100 percent.
Arizona lucked out a win two weeks ago against Cal in a game where they were outgained by 200 yards, but weren’t so lucky last week. They were dominated from start to finish by Utah, and got blown out 42-10.
Arizona’s defense has been a major concern this year, and hasn’t been able to stop the run, ranking 98th in the nation against it. Possibly without Tate and with a leaky defense, it could be a long day for the Wildcats assuming Kelly is able to take advantage of their weaknesses.
UCLA Finally Wins A Game
To say Kelly’s tenure got off to a disastrous start would be an understatement. The team dropped their first five games, and were blown out multiple times, before finally exploding out of nowhere to beat Cal 37-7 last week. They went into the season with Michigan transfer Wilton Speight as their quarterback, but quickly made a change.
Speight lasted less than one half before he was forced out with an injury. Highly recruited true freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson took over from there, and has held on to the starting job ever since. It’s been a mixed bag so far for Thompson-Robinson, as he’s struggled at times like you would expect a true freshman to.
The defense has made major strides in recent weeks, playing very well against Washington and Cal the past two games, and it looks like the program could be turning a corner after their very rough start.
They will likely try to run the ball as much as possible to get Thompson-Robinson comfortable, and should have some success against Arizona’s porous run defense. Arizona also could be without defensive tackle Dereck Boles for this game, which would be another upgrade for UCLA’s running game.
- 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games after accumulating less than 170 yards passing in their previous game
- 5-16 ATS in their last 21 road games
- 2-8 ATS in their last 10 road games vs. a team with a losing home record
- 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I like UCLA a lot here. The two teams are trending in opposite directions, with UCLA headed up and Arizona circling the drain. UCLA finally has some momentum, and I expect them to keep it up here. Arizona is simply not a very good team, whether or not Tate plays, and I especially can’t back them on the road. Seven points may seem steep to lay with a one-win team, but this line is that high for a reason. UCLA is not nearly as bad as their record indicates.
Prediction: UCLA -7
Full-Game Total Pick
I think UCLA will have a bunch of success against this Arizona defense, and that it could turn into a shootout from there. Once UCLA gets up by multiple scores, the Wildcats will have no choice but to start chucking it and turn this into a fast-paced game. The clock should be stopped often, and there should be a lot of points here.