The Stanford Cardinal and UCLA Bruins meet for the season finale for both teams. Stanford and UCLA have both opted out of bowl season, so this is all for them until the 2021 campaign. There have been several schools that have decided to opt out of playing in a bowl. There really hasn’t been any requirements to get involved in a bowl game this season, so they both would have been going.
Bowl committees started to invite five-win teams to bowls when they couldn’t find enough six-win teams years ago. And now as a result of Covid-19, it’s a bit of a free-for-all to go bowling. I don’t know how low they can go, though. If enough teams opt out, there is going to be some real terrible teams likely getting invited.
The final weekend of the season before bowl games begin is a mix of conference championships and regular season matchups. This Stanford and UCLA matchup is considered a regular season game. It’s their bowl game for all intent and purposes. They’ll be going into the offseason following Saturday. This game therefore becomes a question of who is going to be more motivated to play football.
Bowl games, and in this case, the final game of the season, motivation has to be taken into consideration. I think it’s even more important in a Covid-19 season. There might be some teams that are just so exhausted mentally over protocols that they don’t care about what happens in the final week. And these are college kids, so they’re going to have a different mindset than a professional player.
UCLA are coming off a tough loss in their rivalry game for the Victory Bell against the USC Trojans last week. They had a win right there for the taking, and the Bruins blew it, allowing Kedon Slovis and the Trojans to steal a 43-38 win. It’s concerning to me how much motivation UCLA is going to have for this game following that loss. That was a punch in the gut in their biggest game of the season, but we’ll see how up they get for the 3-2 Stanford Cardinal. Head below for our free Stanford vs. UCLA pick for December 19, 2020.
Stanford Cardinal vs. UCLA Bruins NCAAF Betting Odds:
Stanford vs. UCLA Prediction:
The Stanford Cardinal have been fairly serviceable this season. There isn’t anything great or bad to say about them. They’ve just kind of been there. In a season like this, I don’t believe Stanford are too unhappy with what they’ve accomplished. There are some good points to take from their season.
After opening up the season 0-2, with losses against Oregon and Colorado, Stanford has won three in a row over Cal, 24-23, Washington 31-26, and Oregon State most recently, 27-24. The Washington win was a good win, and Oregon State has been much better this season, so that isn’t too shabby either. And Colorado has been a solid team this season, so to that loss back on November 14, 35-32, doesn’t look too bad now either.
Quarterback David Mills has been getting valuable experience under center for the Cardinal. He hasn’t made any mistakes thus far, and has thrown for a touchdown in all five games. Mills has connected for 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and 65.3% completions. It’s unfortunate that we won’t get to see Mills with a full season to operate.
He spent last year sharing time with K.J. Costello, and only gets six games because of Covid-19 as a senior. Give Mills a whole season, and I think he would have put up some nice numbers. He could end up being a draft sleeper in the NFL. In other words, Mills does have something to play for in his final game, as he continues to seek more tape to put on his resume.
The presence of running back Austin Jones has helped him out nicely. Jones has gained 458 yards and 7 touchdowns on 4.4 yards per carry. He’s coming off a big game with 126 yards against Oregon State.
Dorian-Thompson Robinson should be able to put a lot of pressure on the Stanford defense on Saturday. DTR is one of the more exciting players in the Pac-12. He has passed for 12 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on 65.1% completions. Along with his ability to run the ball, DTR is a threat against any defense.
I go back to motivation for this game, though. How much does DTR and UCLA care about this game? The way I see it, they likely checked out following their loss against USC. Getting a full touchdown on the Cardinal looks like a good deal.