The Washington Huskies (4-0, 1-0) visit old rival Chip Kelly and the UCLA Bruins (4-0, 1-0) on Friday night in Pac-12 After Dark action. Kickoff comes from Rose Bowl Stadium at 10:30 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on ESPN. No. 15 Washington is a road favorite over UCLA and the game has an over/under currently set at . Let’s look at Washington at UCLA odds and whether value lies on the board for this game.
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Washington At UCLA Odds
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Washington At UCLA Odds Movement
Numerically, movement on the spread has been minimal, from Washington -3.5 to -3. However, that half-point move represents a major shift in the betting market. 17% of college football games end with a three-point differential, which is referred to as the “push rate.” Wise bettors use push rates to their advantage and dramatically increase probabilities in their bets. Those in on taking Washington and the points are wise to do so while the number hangs at three. UCLA bettors may have missed their chance with three and the hook.
At the time of publish, FanDuel Sportsbook offered UCLA with the hook at -114 while BetRivers Sportsbook lists UCLA +3.5 at -112. With such a major swing in push rate at key figure three, bettors might see it worth paying the extra vig for the better number.
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Getting A Read On Washington, UCLA
Now that we have four full weeks of usable data, it’s a little easier to figure out teams’ strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes, though, that data sends models and power ratings into flux. Consider power ratings and rankings for both Washington and UCLA as they stand this week:
- Washington SP+ rating, ranking: 14.2, 24th
- Washington FPI: 11.9, 19th
- Washington Sagarin: 84.71, 11th
- UCLA SP+: 15.4, 19th
- UCLA FPI: 7.0, 38th
- UCLA Sagarin: 76.29, 42nd
The Huskies’ big win over Michigan State put the team on the map for 2022. However, after the Spartans’ 34-7 loss to Minnesota, the win comes into question. Minnesota ranks as a top-10 team this season in many power ratings aspects, so maybe Michigan State just got the raw end of the deal against both teams.
UCLA, on the other hand, was lucky to escape with a win against South Alabama two weeks ago at home. The Jags are by far the highest-rated team on the Bruins record so far (64th)– the other three are Bowling Green (123rd), Alabama State (FCS), and Colorado (118th). Be sure to take into account their strength of schedule (128th per FPI) before evaluating their top-30 marks in both offensive and defensive EPA.
The Huskies’ Absurdly Effective Offense
Turns out, Kalen DeBoer and Michael Penix are the magic combination. Against two Power Five opponents this year (Michigan State, Stanford), Washington has just two three-and-outs– both at the end of the fourth quarter against MSU when Washington was up by 20. The Huskies are fifth in points per drive through four weeks (4.21!) and 11th in EPA (0.261).
The offense doesn’t just funnel through Penix or any one player, either. Running back Wayne Taulapapa averaged 9.2 yards per touch last week against Stanford and a different receiver has led the way each of Washington’s three FBS games. Last week, it was Rome Odunze (8-161-1), but Ja’Lynn Polk (6-153-3) broke out against the Spartans; in Week 1 against Kent State, it was Jalen McMillan (5-87-2).
UCLA’s defensive front was bullied against South Alabama, leading to their lead back rushing for 7.8 yards per carry. This opens up a real opportunity for Taulapapa in the run game and open the field for receivers in the passing game.
A big component to Penix’s success has been his offensive line’s ability to keep him free of pressure. They’re sixth in sack percent (0.82%) thanks to just one sack allowed through four games. UCLA hasn’t generated much pressure on opposing teams, ranking 52nd nationally in sack rate (6.6%) despite their favorable schedule.
Washington At UCLA Forecast
Trying to figure exactly how good Washington is this year is tough to do at this juncture. Power ratings are all over the shop with them and trying to gauge them based on their schedule is tough. One thing is for certain, though– the Huskies have a major mismatch at the offensive line vs. UCLA’s defensive front. The Bruins were dominated by South Alabama in the trenches.
Line movement off Washington -3.5 is concerning and my aggregate power ratings favor Washington by just 0.3 points (likely a reaction to UCLA’s SP+ rating). The Rose Bowl is far from an intimidating place to play and has been famously been struggling to fill seats so far this season.
Because of that, I’d be happy to lean Washington -3 where you can buy it. While I won’t be betting the game myself because of my overall low grasp of what Washington is, the lean would be to lay the points with the Huskies on Friday.
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