Oregon Ducks vs. UCLA Bruins
Date and Time: Saturday, October 21, 2017, 4 p.m. ET
Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Opening College Football Odds: UCLA -6.5
Oregon vs. UCLA TV Coverage: FOX Sports 1
At least the Ducks have an excuse for why they fell off the face of the earth after starting off the season at 3-0 with impressive wins over Nebraska and Wyoming. They lost Justin Herbert to a broken collarbone. With Herbert out for at least the next four weeks, it's a wonder where the offense is going to come from for the Quack Attack.
That answer, at least thus far, is to be determined, at best. Coach Willie Taggart is trying his best to make it work with Braxton Burmeister under center. The frosh, though, has thrown for just 168 yards in his last two games.
The Oregon offense doesn't need a completely proficient passing quarterback to work right, but there at least needs to be a degree of competency.
Perhaps going back to senior Taylor Alie will fix the problems. The Ducks can't get much worse than their last two games when they were outscored by Washington State and Stanford by a combined score of 82-17.
The Bruins have far fewer excuses, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. They just flat out aren't good enough on defense, and in games that Josh Rosen struggles, they're going to get embarrassed.
Embarrassment doesn't begin to tell the tale of just how bad the Bruins were last week against Arizona. Rich Rodriguez's team ran for 459 yards and averaged 7.7 yards per carry. The 607 total yards of offense allowed is abominable, even by the standards of this lousy defense.
It's natural that Oregon's offense slows down just a bit in the second half from the first half, but the splits in the second halves of games this year have been ridiculous. The Ducks have averaged just 13.0 points per game in the second half in 2017, a far cry from even the 13.9 points per game they're averaging in the first quarter.
The Bruins haven't had problems putting points on the board in the second half; it's been about keeping opponents off the scoreboard. UCLA has allowed teams to average at least 5.9 points per game in each quarter this year, and if the Ducks can find the end zone in each quarter in this one, there's a good chance they're going to have enough on the defensive side of the ball to win this game.
Oregon vs. UCLA Free Picks
Every UCLA game looks exactly the same to us at this point. The team is going to score a lot of points thanks to the fact that Rosen might be the best quarterback in America, but it's going to allow a lot of points because it has the most uninspired defense in the land. The Bruins don't tackle. They don't try to force turnovers. They don't lineup fast enough against these quick Pac-12 offenses. They're just not good, and Jim Mora is going to lose his job because of it.
It's so hard to trust the Ducks right now, especially without a competent quarterback.
Our tiebreaking factor is merely going to be the fact that we're going to take all the points we can get from our favorite online sportsbooks. UCLA proved last week that it only takes a great running game to move the ball against it, and Oregon still has just that with Royce Freeman. In this situation, the Bruins aren't worthy of laying lumber.
College Football ATS Pick: Oregon +6.5 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Oregon 34, UCLA 30