UCLA BRUINS (5-0)
at STANFORD CARDINAL (5-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Line: Stanford -6, Total: 54
Brett Hundley and No. 9 UCLA look for payback after falling to the Cardinal twice last season, as it heads to Palo Alto to take on a No. 13 Stanford team reeling after a shocking loss at Utah.
These rival schools squared off in the 2012 regular-season finale and the Pac-12 championship, with Stanford winning both of those games by a combined score of 62-41. The Cardinal used a dominating rushing attack, averaging 195.5 YPG in the two matchups. However, much of that was on the legs of Stepfan Taylor, who is now playing for the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL. Stanford QB Kevin Hogan averaged only 157.5 yards in the teamís two matchups, and will be counted upon to try and match points with an explosive UCLA offense. But the offense was not the problem in the upset loss to Utah last week, as the usually outstanding Stanford defense gave up 410 yards to the Utes. That could be a bad sign for Saturday, as UCLA QB Brett Hundley is playing as well as any quarterback in the country. Hundley also guided the Bruins to 461 yards of offense in the Pac-12 title game last season against Stanford. Although the Cardinal are 19-8 ATS (71%) when playing on a Saturday under head coach David Shaw, UCLA benefits from the Cardinal being slow to bounce back from an upset loss, going 5-20 ATS (20%) off an upset loss as a favorite since 1992.
Can UCLA avenge its two defeats in 2012 to Stanford on Saturday? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The experts continued their hot streak in college football Best Bets with a strong 64% ATS record (14-8-2) this past week, highlighted by StatFox Brian's perfect 6-0 ATS mark. The four experts are now a combined 59% ATS (75-52-5) for the season. StatFox Gary is a sizzling 73% ATS (11-4-1) in college football Best Bets over the past five weeks and 63% ATS (12-7-1) this year. StatFox Brian is also at 63% ATS (17-10-1) for the year in Best Bets, while StatFox Scott is 59% ATS (13-9-2) on Best Bets in the past four weeks and 57% ATS (21-16-2) for the season. StatFox Dave is 71% ATS (12-5-1) on Best Bets in the past three weeks and 57% ATS (22-17) for the season.
UCLA head coach Jim Mora has changed the personality and the mindset of his program, which has emerged as a legitimate Pac-12 contender. The Bruins rank in the top-20 in both scoring offense (45.8 PPG, 7th in FBS) and defense (18.2 PPG, 19th in nation). Through the first five games, star QB Brett Hundley has accounted for 1,469 yards and 12 touchdowns through the air, while also rushing for 260 yards and three scores. With Johnathan Franklin now with the Green Bay Packers, the Bruins have gone to more of a running back by committee, and so far, the results have been great. Jordan James leads the team with 463 yards, but Hundley and Paul Perkins are both over 200 yards and are averaging more than 4.3 yards per carry. While the offense has stars like Hundley and WR Shaquille Evans, (289 rec. yards, 4 TD) it is the defense that has the Bruins thinking about a BCS Bowl. After starting his career as a running back, it became obvious that Anthony Barr would not see the field at that position. It was then decided that he would move to linebacker, where he is now widely considered to be the No. 2 defensive prospect in the country. Barr played very well in the two matchups against the Cardinal last season, finishing with 17 combined tackles in the two games. Stanford QB Kevin Hogan likes to use his feet and get to the outside, so look for Barr to spend a lot of time playing as a quarterback spy.
Stanford is coming off its first loss of the season, an absolute shocker against 7.5-point underdog Utah. The Cardinal have not lost back-to-back games since October 10 and 17 of 2009 though. Star WR Ty Montgomery once again was big on offense, grabbing eight catches for 131 against Utah and scoring on a kick return for the second straight game. The team has relied too heavily on Montgomery this season, as they would not have gotten by Washington the previous week if it wasnít for his 99-yard kick return for a touchdown against the Huskies. The rushing offense began the season with 220 rushing YPG in the first four contests, but that number has dropped to 161 rushing YPG in the past two weeks. Senior RB Tyler Gaffney did rush for 108 yards on 16 carries (6.8 YPC) versus Utah and also scored his eighth touchdown of the year. However, whether or not the Cardinal win this game will lie squarely on the shoulders of the defense. UCLA has scored at least 34 points in every single game this season, and if that continues, it may be too much for Stanford to overcome.