Back a few seasons ago, UCLA lost five games in a row to Arizona, but it now owns victories and covers in the last three meetings with the Wildcats. The Bruins shoot to make it four in a row when they visit Tempe for a Pac-12 South battle Saturday night.
Point spread: Bruins opened as 4.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).
College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 25.5-23.4 Bruins
Why the UCLA Bruins can cover the spread
UCLA is off to a 3-0 start to this season after rallying to beat BYU last week 24-23. The Bruins trailed by 10 points with 13 minutes to go but scored twice from there, the last time on a Nate Starks three-yard run with three minutes to go to avoid the upset.
On the day, UCLA outrushed the Cougars 296-161, as Paul Perkins, who ran for almost 1,600 yards last year, went off for 219 on 26 carries. And while freshman quarterback Josh Rosen struggled, throwing three interceptions, he did direct a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives, hitting Jordan Payton for a key fourth-quarter score.
The Bruins whiffed on the spread Saturday as 16-point favorites, but two weeks ago, they won at UNLV 37-3, covering at -32, and they opened this season with a 34-16 victory over Virginia in which they gave up a late meaningless score that pushed the spread at -18.
UCLA returned 18 starters this season from a team that went 10-3 last year. If the Bruins can just get some decent play from the quarterback position, following the departure of Brett Hundley, they will contend for a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Why the Arizona Wildcats can cover the spread
The Wildcats are 3-0 straight up and 2-1 against the spread this season after clobbering Northern Arizona last week 77-13, covering as 34-point favorites. Arizona only led 14-13 early in the second quarter, then scored the final 63 points of the game. The Cats piled up 798 yards on offense, running for 505, while quarterback Anu Solomon ran his touchdown-to-interception ratio on the season to 10-0, with four scoring throws.
Arizona opened this season with a tougher-than-expected 42-32 victory over Texas-San Antonio, missing the cover at -32, but followed that up with a 44-20 victory at Nevada, covering at -10.
The Wildcats returned 13 starters this year after going 10-4 last season, including a great collection at the skill positions. Arizona's offensive attack makes it a threat to almost anyone on any given Saturday.
UCLA owns the recent rivalry with Arizona—and the better defense. And more often than not, the smart money resides with the better defense.
UCLA is 3-0 SU and ATS in its last three games against Arizona.
UCLA is 8-0 SU in its last eight games on the road.
Arizona is 2-6 ATS in its last eight games at home.