UCLA (-11) vs Fresno State
The Bruins are coming off a bye week after their impressive start to the season, in which they blew out Hawaii 44-10 as 18-point favorites, then upset No. 16 Louisiana State 38-27 as 1.5-point underdogs.
UCLA is 2-0 straight-up and against the spread, but VSiN college football handicapper Scott Seidenberg warns Bruin fans to not be overconfident in laying the points in the 7:45 p.m. game Saturday in the Rose Bowl. Fresno State is 2-1 straight up but also undefeated at 3-0 against the spread after expected blowouts of UConn and Cal Poly, plus a narrow 31-24, spread-covering loss against Oregon, against whom it was an 18-point dog.
Seidenberg's analysis: Look out Bruins, the Bulldogs are coming to play. Quarterback Jake Haener has been terrific, passing for 1,009 yards, 8 TDs and zero INTs in his first three games, while completing 73.6 percent of his passes. Against Oregon — in a narrow loss that looks much more impressive against the backdrop of the Ducks' road upset of Ohio State last week — Haener threw for 298 yards and a touchdown. In its win over LSU, UCLA allowed Max Johnson to throw for 330 yards and three scores.
The Fresno defense, meanwhile, held the Ducks to just 358 yards. By comparison, Oregon had 505 yards against Ohio State. Fresno State played well enough to win that game in Eugene, and you better believe the players and coaches are excited about another chance to beat a Pac-12 opponent. The Bulldogs defense can get to the quarterback, and they’ll need to against Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
For the Bruins, there may be a little bit of a letdown after their win over LSU. Yes, I know they had a week off, but they are still feeling themselves and looking ahead to their conference opener against Stanford next week. With a Pac-12 South title on their minds this season, it’s easy to see the Bruins go through the motions against Fresno State, looking to get a W and moving on. They don’t want a fight, but a fight is exactly what Fresno State is going to give them.
I know this is a much better Chip Kelly team, but UCLA is 2-6 against under him as a nonconference home favorite. Look for Fresno State to keep this close, with the backdoor potential always being open. I’ll take the points.
Pick: Fresno State + 11
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.