WASHINGTON HUSKIES (6-3) at UCLA BRUINS (7-2)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: UCLA -3 & 61.5
Opening Line & Total: Bruins -2 & 62.5
No. 13 UCLA Bruins will look to remain within striking distance of Arizona State in the Pac-12 South division as it plays host to Washington at the Rose Bowl on Friday night.
These two teams are both riding two-game win streaks, but have not met since 2010, a game in which the Huskies won 24-7 behind now Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker. With Keith Price at the helm for the Huskies, Washington once again finds itself with a very talented quarterback. Price is coming off a game in which he threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for two scores in a dominating 59-7 victory over Colorado. Washington under head coach Steve Sarkisian has continued to improve, but is still missing that marquee win. The matchup in Pasadena gives the Huskies (1-2 SU and ATS on the road) another opportunity for a huge victory, but it will not be easy. The Bruins (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS at home) are coming off a 31-26 win over Arizona in which freshman linebacker Myles Jack did everything. He finished with eight tackles on the defensive side, but solved the UCLA running back issues by coming in and rushing for 120 yards and one touchdown on just six carries. His performance will be vital once again, as top RB Jordon James (ankle) may not play in this game either. Bruins QB Brett Hundley was his normal terrific self, throwing for 227 yards and two touchdowns, as his team was able to hang on. However, the defense will need to play better this week as they are going up against a very balanced Huskies offense. Also, road underdogs averaging at least 450 YPG after gaining 7.25+ yards per play in their previous game are 37-9 ATS (80%) in the past five seasons. But UCLA is 35-20 ATS (64%) at home facing a team with a winning record since 1992, and 32-15 ATS (68%) at home after 2+ straight wins in this same timeframe.
Washington ranks 17th in FBS in rushing (229 YPG) and 25th in passing (287 YPG) while also averaging an impressive 37.2 points per game. While senior QB Keith Price (2,481 passing yards, 18 TD, 4 INT) gets a lot of the talk and rightfully so, the pulse of the offense is junior RB Bishop Sankey. He currently ranks third in the nation with 1,305 rushing yards, averaging 5.9 yards per carry with 13 touchdowns, including at least 1 TD in all nine games. The passing game has been sparked by the play of sophomore WR Jaydon Mickens, who has 50 catches for 614 yards and four touchdowns. He has big-play ability, evidenced by touchdown catches of 68 and 47 yards against California two games ago when he totaled 180 receiving yards. While he has been the guy that Price has looked for most of this season, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (23 catches, 306 yards, 5 TD) is one of the biggest mismatches in the country. At 6-foot-6, 276 pounds, he is nearly impossible to stop in the red zone, but must bring the intensity on every single game, as his numbers are way down from last year when he caught 69 passes for 852 yards. The defense has played well this season, allowing only 21.8 points per game. Senior DB Tre Watson (32 tackles) has been solid all year, but showed his playmaking ability by returning an interception 84 yards for a touchdown last week. The Huskies have a fast defense, and they must be able to run to the ball and not allow UCLA’s star QB Brett Hundley to get on the perimeter.
Hundley (2,225 passing yards, 18 TD, 8 INT) has continued to develop into a more consistent passer, completing 69 percent of his passes this year. However, what makes him one of the best quarterbacks in the country is his ability to make plays with his feet as well. He has rushed for 487 yards (4.3 YPC) and seven touchdowns, making it nearly impossible for defenses to slow him down. The one thing that he has to do is not always look for the home-run play. He is so confident in his arm that sometimes he will force the ball, which has been the cause for most of his eight interceptions on the season. However, when he is on, the Bruins are tough to beat, and senior Shaquelle Evans (34 catches, 503 yards, 7 TD) gives him a big-time target at wide receiver. At 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds, he has a nice combination of size and speed, and is very difficult to guard on the outside. He has a great ability to go up and get the ball against defenders, allowing Hundley to look to attack downfield. The linebacking core of the Bruins is one of the very best in the country, led by Myles Jack and Anthony Barr. They are versatile in defending against the run, while also possessing the ability to cover slot receivers and tight ends. With a potential Pac-12 South championship game looming against Arizona State (5-1 in Pac-12), UCLA (4-2 in Pac-12) most be focused on the task at hand, because the Huskies are fully capable of winning on Friday night.