UCLA at Arizona
Saturday, 6 pm PT - PAC-12 Network
CRIS Opener: Arizona pk O/U 74.5
CRIS Current: UCLA -2.5 O/U 74
Bye weeks are very meaningful in college football. Banged up players get a chance to get healthy. Coaches have extra time to shore up flaws and prepare gameplans. Players get a much needed break and tend to come back with full focus. As we approach the college football season’s halfway point, we should take note to adjust power ratings up a notch or two for teams coming off their break.
UCLA is in that exact situation this week. The Bruins faced a brutal non-conference slate, including Texas A&M and Memphis. They opened their PAC-12 slate with Stanford and Colorado. The Arizona team they’ll face on Saturday Night is as weak as any foe they’ve seen all year, with the lone exception of Hawaii. And it’s surely worth noting that the Bruins beat Hawaii 56-23, covering the spread as 24 point favorites.
The Bruins defense currently ranks #128 in the country against the run, allowing 284 yards per game and 6.3 yards per carry, truly awful numbers. But those season long stats don’t tell the true story of what we can expect from UCLA on Saturday. Injured defensive starters Jaelan Phillips, Lokeni Toailoa and Dechaun Holiday are all expected back on the field this week; a SIGNIFICANT upgrade for their front seven.
That matters, a lot, because Arizona might have found themselves a QB last week. Sophomore Khalil Tate was mostly a running threat as a true frosh last year, attempting only 45 pass attempts for the season. Tate was injured over the summer and didn’t get a chance to compete for the starting job. But he’s healthy now and coming off a truly brilliant starting debut, rushing for more than 300 yards while compiling a QB rating of 217.2, throwing only one incomplete pass all day.
Can Tate do it again, or is he just a one hit wonder? Here’s what UCLA head coach Jim Mora had to say: “It’s like playing a wildcat offense with a quarterback that can throw. We have to play hard but play with patience, play with speed but play with patience, and that’s sometimes a difficult combination. But we’ve been working really hard on it, and our guys have a great understanding of what we’re up against.”
UCLA’s defense should be better with three key starters back. They’ve got film on Tate to work with and extra time to prep for Rich Rodriguez’s attack. The Bruins own offense is loaded with quality skill position talent, and QB Josh Rosen is still very much alive to be the first QB chosen in the draft next spring. And Arizona’s defense is a long, long way from being an elite unit, capable of shutting the Bruins down.
Let’s not forget about the head-to-head matchup record between Jim Mora and RichRod! In five previous meetings between these two head coaches, Mora is 5-0 SU, 5-0 ATS, covering the spread by an AVERAGE of more than 19 points per game. Now that’s a track record worthy of support!