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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, October 25, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Everyone knew before the season started that Oregon was going to be on the very short list of national championship contenders in college football. And, everyone recognized that a midseason stretch of danger spots was probably all that stood in the way of a spot in the BCS title tilt. The Ducks always have great “style points” to go along with their record. Somebody in the Pac 12 was going to have to BEAT them to keep the Ducks on the outside looking in again this season.

*Washington failed to do that, competing for a half before falling by the wayside.

*UCLA has a chance to do that Saturday in the marquee national TV game of the afternoon, though the Bruins looked so bad at Stanford that you now have to wonder if they have what it takes to go 60 hard minutes in Eugene.

*Stanford is waiting in the wings for a Thursday Night encounter in Palo Alto on November 7. Stanford pulled off a huge shocker in Eugene last year, which means they won’t catch the Ducks napping.

It’s possible that the only team that can beat Oregon is Oregon. They would have to play flat, sloppy, and soft, just as a hot opponent was capturing lightning in a bottle. Can UCLA capture lightning in a bottle Saturday afternoon? Let’s review what both teams have done so far this season.

 

SEASON SUMMARY

UCLA

UCLA (-21) beat Nevada 58-20 (winning yardage 647-353)

UCLA (+4) won at Nebraska 41-21 (winning yardage 504-331)

UCLA (-42) beat New Mexico State 59-13 (winning yardage 692-333)

UCLA (-5) won at Utah 34-27 (winning yardage 404-387)

UCLA (-240 beat California 37-10 (winning yardage 488-320)

UCLA (+4) lost at Stanford 24-10 (losing yardage 266-419)

What UCLA did at Nebraska certainly suggested they’d be capable of giving Oregon a fight. And, Nebraska’s actually played pretty well in recent weeks…making that yardage differential seem even more impressive. The problem is…quarterback Brett Hundley played a poor second half in the survival game at Utah, and was mostly invisible last week at Stanford. He may be the type of quarterback who abuses really bad defenses…and he caught Nebraska on a bad day.

 

OREGON

Oregon (-59) beat Nicholls State 66-3 (winning yardage 772-337)

Oregon (-22) won at Virginia 59-10 (winning yardage 557-298)

Oregon (-28) beat Tennessee 59-14 (winning yardage 687-316)

Oregon (-38) beat California 55-16 (winning yardage 381-325 in a monsoon)

Oregon (-38) won at Colorado 57-16 (winning yardage 755-374)

Oregon (-14) won at Washington 45-24 (winning yardage 631-376)

Oregon (-38) beat Washington State 62-38 (winning yardage 719-559)

If you’re a stat guy, those are just jaw-dropping numbers (except for the torrential rain game vs. Cal). Remember that Washington crushed BYU and almost beat Stanford…and that Tennessee almost beat Georgia and did upset South Carolina. Oregon toyed with those teams, which means UCLA has virtually no margin for error Saturday afternoon.

 

Current Vegas Line: Oregon by 23.5, total of 72

Well, UCLA has no margin for error if we’re talking about winning the game. Covering that huge spread? That would seem like a much more manageable task. UCLA isn’t a pushover, and they should be coming in with a chip on their shoulder after playing like wimps vs. Stanford last week.

 

For UCLA to cover:

*They have to play cleanly on offense and keep putting points on the board

*They have to force field goals and turnovers from Oregon

*They have to play hard for all 60 minutes

 

UCLA is going to get outgained by Oregon barring a couple of miracles. Oregon is a yard-eating machine no matter who they play. If UCLA can make the most of its own yardage, while frustrating Oregon a time or two each quarter…we have a final margin in the teens instead of higher…and possibly upset potential if cheap points go UCLA’s way off takeaways or special teams.

There’s not a lot of drama in the BCS race this weekend. UCLA has a chance to change that if they put the pieces together again like they did at Nebraska. If they come out down in the dumps after getting humbled by Stanford…they’ll be down 28 points early in the second quarter on the way to a 55-21 type of shellacking.

JIM HURLEY has his eye on this game. But, he knows that many of the weekend’s best opportunities will be coming away from the national championship race. Beating college football this year has meant finding BEST BETS with mid-rung teams in the major conferences…sleepers in the mid-majors…and blown lines with certain teams that oddsmakers just can’t seem to get right.

You can purchase the final word for Saturday right here at the website with your credit card in the hours leading up to kickoff. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155.

Back with you tomorrow to discuss South Carolina/Missouri, which has surprisingly become the biggest prime time game of the college weekend. We’ll pick up the pro prime time games Sunday and Monday here in the NOTEBOOK.

Oregon has the look of a team with its eyes on the prize. The same is always true for JIM HURLEY…except the prize is the title of WORLD’S TOP HANDICAPPER, and the reward is COLD HARD CASH being paid out hand over fist to his clients!

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