The Washington Huskies and the UCLA Bruins both face a very urgent situation this Friday night in Pasadena, Calif. The winner will gain a much better bowl bid, but that’s only a small fraction of the stakes that are ultimately involved. Washington has to prove to itself that it can beat an above-average team in the Pac-12 Conference after many years of falling short. UCLA is still in the race for the Pac-12 South Division championship and cannot afford to slip up at this point in the season. A loss for the Bruins would not mean that they would be officially eliminated from the South race, but they would certainly be on life support if they fail to beat the Huskies on their home field.
Washington Huskies @ UCLA Bruins
Friday, November 15th – 8:30 PM ET
Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA
Odds: UCLA -2.5
Why The Huskies Can Cover The Spread:
Their schedule has treated them more gently in recent weeks. Washington lost three games in a row this season because those games were the toughest on the Huskies’ slate. Washington had to play Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State in consecutive weeks. A lot of teams in the Pac-12 and across the nation would lose to those three teams if the schedule put them in consecutive weeks on the calendar. Washington suffered a fate that was cruel. The Huskies were dealt a bad set of odds. Now, though, the schedule has lightened for Washington. Head coach Steve Sarkisian has been able to play California and Colorado over the past three weeks while also receiving a bye week as well. This team should now be physically and mentally rested. It should be ready to regain the form it displayed in September, when it bolted to a 4-0 record. Washington’s no longer playing one tough team on a weekly basis. The Huskies can take on a tough opponent in the form of UCLA and be able to play their best, without a lot of baggage or anxiety. This is a good setup for them, even though this game is on the road. Washington actually played its best game of the season in a road loss at Stanford on Oct. 5. There’s no reason the Huskies can’t play similarly well here and cover the spread.
Why The Bruins Can Cover The Spread:
They have the better team. Washington might have been given a bad break by the schedule, but the Huskies have played only one really good game against a top team this season. Washington’s defense caved in during a 53-24 loss to Arizona State on Oct. 19. That’s a sign of a team that doesn’t respond well to in-game adversity. As long as the Bruins get off to a decent start and don’t give the Huskies easy points, they should be able to dictate the way in which this game is played. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has improved in recent weeks. He struggled a month ago but has regained the kind of precision and awareness that made him such a good quarterback for the Bruins in the first place.
This game comes down to the matchup between Washington’s offense and UCLA’s defense. The feeling here is that UCLA will generate a good pass rush and box in the Huskies’ passing attack. Bet the Bruins as they’ll get stronger as the game goes on and win at home.
Pick: UCLA -2.5