Utah vs UCLA Odds, Picks and Predictions: Utes Still the Class of the Pac-12

UCLA may be undefeated to start 2022 but Chip Kelly's squad has historically struggled against tough competition. In enters defending Pac-12 champion Utah, who won this matchup by 20 a year ago and may lay a similar beating this time around.

JD Yonke - Contributor at Covers.com
JD Yonke • Contributor
Oct 6, 2022 • 09:22 ET • 4 min read

This weekend, the big game in the Pac-12 features the Utah Utes traveling to the Rose Bowl to face an undefeated UCLA Bruins squad. 

After winning the conference championship a year ago, Utah faltered in the opener against Florida but has rattled off four straight victories since.

UCLA had a statement 40-32 win over Washington last Friday night and hopes to remain a contender this season.

Check out our college football picks and predictions for Utah vs. UCLA below.

Utah vs UCLA best odds

Utah vs UCLA picks and predictions

The refrain with Chip Kelly and UCLA is that they look great against subpar competition but struggle when facing the best teams in the conference. The Bruins will be out to prove everyone wrong in a monumental home game against the reigning Pac-12 champion Utah Utes in what is the biggest game of the weekend on the West Coast.

The trends support that step-ups in the competition haven’t gone well for Kelly’s bunch, as they are just 1-5 against the spread in their last six games against a team with a winning record. Isolating for games at the Rose Bowl, the Bruins are 0-4 ATS in their last four games against winning teams.

The Bruins finished with an encouraging 8-4 record a year ago, but their best win was against... California? Remarkably, they were 8-0 against teams with a losing record and 0-4 against teams that made a bowl. That’s about as stark of a contrast as you’re going to see.

Last week’s win over Washington (4-1) was certainly a step in the right direction, although it should also be pointed out that Washington accumulated that record against a very forgiving schedule, playing three FBS teams with a losing record (Kent State, Michigan State, Stanford) and one FCS school (Portland State).

Utah is a winning team in every sense of the term. Coach Kyle Whittingham is always underappreciated for the great job that he does, and his team is now 13-3 since Cameron Rising took over as starting quarterback. His team is scoring 42.0 points per game while limiting opponents to 14.4 points per game. The Utes haven’t even clicked on all cylinders yet while finding their groove after losing a few key pieces, but they still look like a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-12.

Utah dominated this matchup a year ago, winning 44-24 at home. In my opinion, not enough has changed from a year ago to expect a widely different result. The Utes are 4-0 ATS in their last four games, rebounding well after losing to Florida after Rising threw an interception in the end zone when it appeared a victory was at their fingertips.

Unlike the Bruins, the Utes have done well against good competition, going 6-0 ATS in their last six games against a team with a winning record. 

My best bet: Utah -3.5 (-107 at PointsBet)

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Utah vs UCLA spread analysis

Utah remains a developmental program. They don’t have the NIL money and capacity to recruit an endless amount of five-stars and throw them on the field in hopes of overwhelming opponents, as is the case with several programs elsewhere in the country.

Rather, they recruit kids who will fit their system and do an excellent job developing that talent into really good college football players, and sometimes future NFL contributors.

Why do I mention this? Because that developmental style usually requires some time to gel. Of course, the defense was going to take a slight step back after losing star linebacker Devin Lloyd in the first round of the NFL Draft.

The defense looked shaky in the opener against Florida without Lloyd, who is now in the conversation for 2022 NFL Rookie of the Year. The Utes will get better as the year goes on, and right around now is when they usually start to click. The trends reflect that theory, as Utah is 15-5-1 in their last 21 games in October. 

The Utes have dominated the conference lately, going 34-16-1 ATS in their last 51 Pac-12 games. Whittingham secured the school’s first-ever Pac-12 championship a year ago and feels as though he can compete for back-to-back titles. The Bruins have a long way to go before they can be talked about in the same manner. 

Utah vs UCLA Over/Under analysis

There’s been a lot of coverage lately that Utah has been experiencing some hiccups in the running game.

While it’s true that running back Tavion Thomas seems to be in the dog house after not playing in the first half against Arizona State and then taking only six carries for 13 yards a week ago against Oregon State, the Utes have found a way to keep the ground game chugging along. They’re averaging 203.4 rushing yards per game on 5.2 yards per carry as a team, ranking 27th in rushing success rate.

UCLA’s defense allowed 32 points to Washington and 31 points to South Alabama in its two biggest tests of the season. They rank outside of the Top 50 in nearly every advanced metric on that side of the ball, notably checking in at 63rd in predicted points added (PPA) and 61st in success rate. A play on Utah’s team total Over 33.5 (-130) at DraftKings looks like it holds value.

When the Bruins have the ball, they could find success as the offense has looked dangerous. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson had a field day against Washington, throwing for 315 yards and three touchdowns while adding 53 yards and another score on the ground.

Zach Charbonnet is one of the best running backs in college football and could find some success against a Utah defense that ranks 78th in rushing defense PPA, 65th in rushing defense success rate, and 88th in rushing defense explosiveness. 

The total is listed at 64.5 at most books — a high mark for two teams that usually run the ball a lot but warranted considering both should find success in this spot.

Utah vs UCLA betting trend to know

Utah is 6-0 in its last six games against a team with a winning record. Find more NCAA betting trends for Utah vs. UCLA.

Utah vs UCLA game info

Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
Date: Saturday, October 8, 2022
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

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