It’s a long shot, but the Stanford Cardinal are still technically alive for the Pac-12 North title. In order to remain in contention, they must take care of business against the UCLA Bruins on Thursday night. Kickoff from Stanford Stadium for this nationally-televised contest is set for 9 p.m. ET. Stanford (3-3, 2-2) has had its share of growing pains in a rebuilding season that included a three-game losing streak, with every loss coming by double-figures. But a win combined with a potential Washington victory over Oregon on Saturday would cloud the conference title race. The Bruins (1-5, 1-2) seek their first win in the series since 2007. The Cardinal are 3.5-point favorites, down from an opener of seven amid an unstable quarterback situation, and the over-under for total points scored is 49 in the latest Stanford vs. UCLA odds. Before finalizing your UCLA vs. Stanford picks and college football predictions, make sure you hear what SportsLine expert Micah Roberts has to say.
Roberts worked in the Las Vegas sportsbook industry for more than 20 years, including a 13-year run as Station Casinos’ book director. Armed with an unmatched network of sources, the former bookmaker became a SportsLine expert in 2016.
The West Coast-based handicapper has had a keen sense for the tendencies of these Pac-12 clubs and boasts a stunning 6-0 record on UCLA picks over the past two seasons. In Week 1, Roberts advised SportsLine members that the experienced defense of Cincinnati (-2.5) would be the difference against the Bruins. That’s exactly what happened, as the Bearcats made several late defensive stops to secure a 24-14 victory. Anyone who followed Roberts’ advice booked a comfortable winner.
Now, Roberts has zeroed in on UCLA vs. Stanford from every angle and released another confident against the spread pick that is only available at SportsLine.
Roberts knows the Cardinal have been known for their high-profile running backs, including Heisman finalists Christian McCaffrey and Bryce Love. McCaffrey now stars for the Carolina Panthers, while Love was drafted by the Washington Redskins. Senior Cameron Scarlett, who has played behind both of them, lacks the star power of those famed alums, but has been a reliable workhorse this season. He has 564 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 4.4 yards per carry. He’ll be leaned on heavily with Stanford down to its third-string quarterback.
The passing game has seen gradual improvement and balanced production. Sophomore receiver Michael Wilson leads the team with 25 catches for 317 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Connor Wedington has 29 catches for 252 yards and a score. Colby Parkinson, a 6-7 tight end, has emerged as a reliable third-down weapon and has 22 receptions with a touchdown.
Even so, the Cardinal are far from assured of covering the Stanford vs. UCLA spread against a Bruins team that will be desperate to give a respectable performance.
Although the fan base has been frustrated by the lack of success, there’s little doubt that UCLA has had one of the worst injury situations in the country. Not only has Thompson-Robinson struggled to stay on the field for the second straight year, many other key contributors have been lost for part or all of the season. The casualties include senior receiver Theo Howard, who is out for the season, while standout cornerback Darnay Holmes has been slowed by various ailments.
Even so, Kelly said the bye week has given many Bruins a chance to heal up and he expects to have increased depth against Stanford. Senior linebacker Tyree Thompson, who had foot surgery in the off-season, is expected to return to the field. Linebacker Krys Barnes suffered an undisclosed injury against Oregon State, but has been practicing with the team. He is listed as questionable. Plus, Stanford will be without starting quarterback KJ Costello (hand) and backup Davis Mills (calf).
Roberts has broken down this matchup from every angle and identified the critical factor that has him all over one side of the spread. He’s only sharing what it is, and who to back, at SportsLine.
Who wins UCLA vs. Stanford? And what critical factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the UCLA vs. Stanford spread you should jump on Thursday, all from the seasoned expert who is 6-0 on Bruins picks, and find out.