Neither the UCLA Bruins nor the California Golden Bears are a contender for the Pac-12 championship this year, and while Cal will have an additional chance to show their wares, this is the Last Chance Saloon for the Bruins, where more was expected under head coach Chip Kelly.
UCLA will need to defend better, and Cal will need to be more offensive as these schools – which are ‘sister’ institutions in a sense in that they are part of the University of California system – get together in the regular season finale.
The action is scheduled to get underway at 10:30 PM ET at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. If you are a BetAnySports customer, you can watch this game in Fox Sports 1 and place wagers in real time using two different options – Live Betting Extra and Sports Betting Ultra.
Here are the college football betting odds, with Cal a slight favorite:
California Golden Bears -1
UCLA Bruins +1
Over 50 points -110
Under 50 points -110
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We missed a really good story line here, because Cal quarterback Devon Modster actually played at UCLA for three seasons, and in fact participated in beating the Golden Bears as a Bruin in 2017. But it looks as if Chase Garbers, who has been in and out of the Cal lineup this year, gets the call again from coach Justin Wilcox.
A check of the infirmary tells us that UCLA’s QB, Dorian Thompson-Robinson (known far and wide in L.A. County as ‘DTR’, will likely make post, even though he practiced lightly this week (leg injury).
Part of the dynamic here is that while UCLA has not chance to get to a bowl game, with a 4-7 record (5-6 ATS), Cal (6-5 SU, 5-6 ATS) is bowl-eligible, and probably could have done a little better if Garbers was healthy, since they have gone 5-0 when he has played more than a half.
Some people figure that an important component of this involves the fact that California had a satisfying win last week against its traditional rival (Stanford), while UCLA got waxed by its own crosstown foe (52-34 loss to USC). And then there is some payback for the Bears, who lost 37-7 last year to UCLA at Berkeley, turning the ball over five times.
You can’t ignore the offensive progress UCLA has made under Chip Kelly through the second half of the season. DTR is pretty dangerous when he is on his game, and running back Joshua Kelley has averaged more than 100 yards a game.
What also can’t be ignored is how poor UCLA has defended. I mean, they have just been awaful, ranking 128th against the pass (efficiency), which is ahead of only Charlotte and UMass. They allow 44% on third down, are near the bottom in turnover margin and have yielded 28 sacks.
Well, Cal has allowed 40 sacks. And we would be the first to admit that they don’t have a lot of “punch” in their offense. But they are a lot better on defense, even if they haven’t been elite. And let’s not forget that they might have the best defensive player on the field in linebacker Evan Weaver, who leads the nation in tackles.
But can Cal keep Garbers upright? That’s a good question. Maybe he’s going to be his own worst enemy, as even though he ran for the game-winning touchdown, he did run with it 13 times, and you don’t want to see the guy take that much punishment. Other QB’s have taken almost half those 40 sacks, if that’s “good news.”
Garbers gives the Bears something pretty good to wrok with. He’s completed 59%, and the notable thing is that he’s been intercepted only twice in 155 attempts. And that is part of the Cal story this year – they committed 31 turnovers last season, including those five in the game with UCLA, and this year that figure is down to just twelve, So they are the squad here less likely to beat themselves with mistakes.
So if Cal is focused – and with the revenge angle, along with 30 players on the current squad from Southern California, they should be – they have to be considered the more solid choice here.
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