UCLA Bruins at (15) Colorado Buffaloes (-13)
The preseason Pac-12 South favorite UCLA Bruins (3-5 SU, 2-6 ATS) have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments to date. They’ve lost three straight and have consistently faltered in tight games. Things get even tougher for the Bruins on Thursday night when they travel to Boulder to square off against the upstart no. 15 Colorado Buffaloes (6-2 SU, 8-0 ATS) at Folsum Field (Nov. 2 at 9:00 PM Eastern).
UCLA will be without starting quarterback Josh Rosen for the third consecutive game and will have to rally behind fifth-year senior Mike Fafaul. The Bruins have lost two close games (27-24 at Washington State and 52-45 vs Utah) in Fafual starts. The signal-caller has put up impressive numbers with one notable exception: he has been intercepted eight times in just 122 attempts. For UCLA to have any shot, Fafaul will have to do a much better job of taking care of the football. This will be difficult against the Buffaloes ball-hawking defensive backs, who have already picked-off 11 passes this season.
UCLA will want to establish some sort of running game to take pressure off Fafaul. But this will be beyond difficult against a stingy Buffalo defense. Colorado has the 12th-ranked defense nationally while UCLA’s offense is dead-last in rushing with only 85.5 yards per game.
Money is showing up on Colorado with good reason. CU opened and as a 10.5-point favorite and the number has been bet all the way up to 13. Home field is an even more significant advantage when a coastal school has to travel to altitude for competition. Fatigue will likely take its toll on a frustrated and battered Bruins team as this game unfolds.
The total has also been bet up from 54.5 to 58. Bettors expect UCLA to falter on the ground and the quicker pace to ultimately benefit the Buffaloes.
Colorado has been the surprise of the Pac 12. The Buffaloes have three of their final four games at home, where they’ve been terrific. CU is 4-0 in Boulder and has outscored opponents by a ridiculous margin of 187-36. This is a team feeling great about itself and sees a reasonable path to the Pac-12 South championship.
Senior quarterback Sefo Liufau leads a balanced offensive attack which produces nearly 500 yards per contest. Colorado should be able to expose a beleaguered Bruin defense in a myriad of ways. It seems like a lot of points but it’s for good reason.
Pick: Colorado (-13)
Photo credit: Jason Oliver[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.