The UCLA Bruins, after a successful debut under new head coach Jim Mora, Jr., shoot for 2-0 and a feather in their cap when they take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers Saturday.
It's a Pac-12/Big Ten battle Saturday afternoon (7:30 p.m. ET, Fox), reminiscent of old Rose Bowls. But UCLA bettors are still nervous of their team, after enduring a 5-12 ATS in 17 recent games.
Most online sportsbooks opened this game with Nebraska favored by four or 4.5 points, but as of Friday afternoon the Huskers were lined at -5.5 at most betting outlets tracked by OddsShark.com. Also, the total started at around 62 and has held firm in early betting action on this game.
"The Bruins are just 4-10 ATS in their past 14 games as an underdog, but Week 1 was encouraging the way they handled Rice," said Jack Randall, handicapping analyst at OddsShark.com. "Nebraska meanwhile is 4-1-1 ATS in six recent games as chalk, according to our matchup report."
UCLA won its first game under Coach Mora last Thursday, beating Rice 49-24 and covering as 17-point road favorites. QB Brett Hundley ran for 72 yards and a score on the first play of his college career, helping the Bruins take a 19-0 lead.
The Owls then scored 17 straight points to pull within 19-17, but UCLA then scored the next 10 points to lead 29-17. Rice scored again to get back within five at 29-24, but in probably the key play of the game, Bruins LB Damien Holmes returned a fumble 44 yards for a score shortly before halftime.
UCLA then iced the game with a couple scores in the fourth quarter.
On the night, the Bruins piled up 646 yards of offense, including 343 on the ground. They did, however, give up 358 yards to the Owls—174 of that on the ground.
UCLA also had three extra-point attempts blocked.
Nebraska, meanwhile, opened its season with a 49-20 win over Southern Miss, covering as 20-point home favorites. The Huskers grabbed an early 14-0 lead but allowed the Eagles to tie the game with help from a kickoff returned for a score.
Nebraska, though, led 28-17 at the half, then outscored Southern Miss 21-3 in the second half.
Husker QB Taylor Martinez completed 26-of-34 passes for 354 yards and five scores Saturday, as Nebraska tallied 632 total yards of offense.
However, the Huskers took a hit when RB Rex Burkhead, who ran for 1,350 yards last year, sprained a knee in the first quarter and had to leave the game. He is expected to miss Saturday's contest.
These two teams last met 18 years ago, when the Huskers beat the Bruins 49-21 in Lincoln. This time, nearly two thirds of the early wagering action was on the Huskers.
Free NCAAF Pick: UCLA looked pretty good offensively last week, both running and throwing the ball, although that did come against Rice. Nebraska, meanwhile, is likely to miss Burkhead, and Martinez can be erratic when asked to do too much. So we'll take the Bruins as home dogs. (Courtesy of PickShark.com.)