The UCLA Bruins (6-6) and Oregon Ducks (10-2) are set to play in the inaugural Pac-12 Conference football championship game Friday night inside Autzen Stadium in a game televised on FOX.
UCLA Bruins at Oregon Ducks
UCLA will represent the South Division in this prime-time event due to the USC Trojans still being under NCAA sanctions, while the program is in a state of transition due to the firing of head coach Rick Neuheisel. He will finish out the year on the sidelines, but athletic director Dan Guerrero made the move early in order to give the school an opportunity to hire the best available coach in the market. The Bruins have lost three consecutive games in this series, including a 60-13 defeat on Oct. 21, 2010, as 26.5-point road underdogs. UCLA is 1-5 ATS on the road this year and the ‘under’ is 4-2 in those contests.
The Bruins hold a 39-25 advantage in the all-time series, including a 17-12 edge in games played in Eugene. UCLA last captured the conference championship back in 1992, but is bowl eligible for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons. Winning the battle on the ground is likely the team’s only hope in this mismatch on paper, ranking third in the Pac-12 in averaging 193.3 rushing yards per game. The Bruins rank for 200-plus yards on the ground six times this season. “Both Franklin and Coleman are real tough running backs,” commented Ducks head coach Chip Kelly about UCLA’s talented backfield of Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman.
Oregon is seeking its third straight outright conference championship and the winner of Friday night’s affair will play the winner of the Big Ten Championship in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks bring in a high-powered offense that ranks fifth nationally in averaging 291 yards per game, with junior running back LaMichael James pacing the country in gaining 142.7 yards a contest. The unit has scored 551 points on the year, which is the second-most in program history behind the 611 it put up in 2010. Oregon is 0-2 ATS this season when favored by 31 or more points.
The Ducks have tallied an impressive 29-4 home mark since Kelly came on staff as the offensive coordinator in 2007, averaging 45.8 points in those games. It should be an emotional game inside Autzen Stadium for a ground of 14 seniors, as they’ve won 42 games since coming on campus, which is the most in school history over a four-year stretch. On the defensive side of the ball, the unit ranks 43rd nationally in giving up 23 points per game, while sitting fifth in the conference in surrendering 135.5 rushing yards per game.
Bettors will likely back the Bruins due to being an underdog of 31 or more points for just the second time since 1992, while the Ducks are 0-2-2 ATS as a home favorite of 10.5 or more points.
Recommendation: UCLA Bruins +32
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