UCLA vs. Stanford: College football betting picks, odds and analysis

UCLA running back Kazmeir Allen carries the ball during a loss to Fresno State at the Rose Bowl on Sept. 18.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA’s dreams of an undefeated season ended last week with its loss to Fresno State, but the good news is that was a nonconference game and the Bruins still have goals such as a Pac-12 championship that they can still attain.

But it won’t be easy, starting with Saturday night’s conference opener at Stanford. VSiN’s Matt Youmans breaks down the matchup.

UCLA (-4 1/2) at Stanford

UCLA coach Chip Kelly leads his players onto the field before a loss to Fresno State at the Rose Bowl on Sept. 18.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Hit the brakes on the Chip Kelly hype train. The UCLA coach touted his “special” team after double-digit victories over Louisiana State and Hawaii, but Kelly had nothing to brag about Saturday after the Bruins were stunned as 11-point favorites in a 40-37 loss to Fresno State in Pasadena.

The result was no fluke.

The Bruins were a train wreck on defense while allowing 569 total yards and 32 first downs to a Mountain West offense. Fresno State’s Jake Haener connected on 39 of 53 passes for 455 yards and two touchdowns, including the winning 13-yard throw with 14 seconds left. Haener led the Bulldogs on a six-play, 75-yard drive in 40 seconds to cap an improbable last-minute comeback.

On the bright side, the Bruins’ offense remained strong as Dorian Thompson-Robinson passed for 278 yards and three touchdowns.

UCLA linebacker Mitchell Agude’s relentless effort on the football field is inspired by a catastrophic accident, volunteer work in Nigeria and his mother’s unwavering voice.

Sept. 23, 2021

Haener’s performance was special, and now UCLA’s beleaguered defense will face another quarterback on the rise. Two weeks ago, Tanner McKee threw for 234 yards and two scores as Stanford, a 17-point road underdog, whipped preseason Pac-12 South favorite USC 42-28. Cardinal coach David Shaw has quickly turned around his team after a season-opening loss to Kansas State. Stanford has won 12 of the last 13 in this rivalry, including a 48-47 double-overtime decision last year at the Rose Bowl.

The Bruins could be emotionally deflated after the Fresno debacle, and the Cardinal get a boost by playing at home in front of fans for the first time since 2019, so those factors point to Stanford as a home dog. UCLA suddenly has the look of a fragile favorite.

Pick: Stanford +4 1/2


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