The PAC-12 and the Big-10 collide when the 16th ranked UCLA Bruins (1-0, 1-0 ATS) travel to Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, NE to take on the 23rd ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-0, 1-1 ATS) this Saturday afternoon (12:00pm ET). The two teams met in Los Angeles last season in a game won 36-30 by the Bruins in which Nebraska allowed 653 yards of total offense in the first of several defensive meltdowns that marred their season. UCLA comes into the game rested following a bye week after their 58-20 win over Nevada to open the campaign. Nebraska rolled last week over Southern Mississippi at home by a score of 56-13 and eked out a 37-34 win over Wyoming (in which they allowed over 600 yards of total offense) in week 1, also at home.
UCLA returns 4 starters on their offensive line and quarterback Brett Hundley (274 yards passing, 2 TDs, no INTs) who threw for over 300 yards and accounted for 4 TDs in last season’s win over the Huskers. Hundley threw for 29 TDs and set ULCA season records for passing yards (3,740); total offense (4,095); and completions (318) last year. The Bruins also return one of Hundley’s favorite targets in wide receiver, and Notre Dame transfer Shaq Evans (60 receptions, 877 yards in 2012) and running back Jordon James (155 yards on carries in week 1). UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr ranked 2nd in the nation (tied) in sacks last season with 13, and had 21 tackles for loss; he will be a disruptive force for the Cornhuskers to contend with. The Bruins handled Nebraska in the 2nd half of last season’s meeting, with 6 Husker drives ending in 3 three-and-outs, a fumble, an interception and a safety.
Nebraska’s defense was their biggest issue last season as the Cornhuskers ranked a respectable 35th in the nation in total defense allowing 360.6 yards per game, but gave up 63 points and 70 points respectively in losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin at the end of last season. So far in 2013, the Huskers have allowed 302.5 passing YPG (103rd among FBS teams) and 140.5 YPG on the ground (56th among FBS teams), ranking 90th overall among FBS teams with 443 YPG allowed.
UCLA vs. Nebraska Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
UCLA Bruins +4.5
@Nebraska Cornhuskers -4.5
Over 69.5 (-110)
Under 69.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
UCLA vs. Nebraska Pick
The over is 4-0 in the Bruins’ last four true road games and 7-1 in their last 8 overall and 2-0 in Nebraska games this year and 4-0 in its last 4 games overall. Nebraska was 6-1 ATS as a home favorite last season. The Cornhuskers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games against PAC-12 teams and 3-7-1 ATS in their last 10 games against winning teams.
Lincoln is a very difficult road environment to play in, and the Bruins have the added stress of the death of a reserve wide receiver last week weighing on them as well, but the Huskers motivation to avenge last season’s embarrassing loss may be the biggest motivator of all. The Bruins are a tempting pick as a road underdog because of the Huskers’ embarrassing performance in their opener over Wyoming and their anemic defensive performance against UCLA last season and in big games against Ohio State and Wisconsin, but the home field advantage in Lincoln makes it hard to bet against Nebraska. The safer play to make here is on the total, with two explosive offenses led by experienced QBs in Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez and UCLA’s Hundley, combined with the Huskers anemic defensive performances in big games, the OVER is the play to make here. This is a game that could go over by the end of the 3rd quarter, or even halftime if both of the offenses get rolling. Take the over in this game.