Oregon State Begins Pac-12 Play At UCLA Bruins
By: Willie Bee
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Pac-12 foes collide in ABC's mid-afternoon time slot this Saturday when the Oregon State Beavers and UCLA Bruins meet at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
The conference opener for both schools entered the college football betting card with the host Bruins an 11-11½-point favorite before being quickly bet down to 9-9½ at most shops listed on the Don Best Pro Odds. Scoreboard bettors are deciding high/low on a 54½-point total.
A strange twist of scheduling has the Bruins off to a 3-0 start while the Beavers have had a couple of weeks off and will be playing just their second game of the season. Oregon State didn't have the luxury of a tune-up game due to their season opener vs. Nicholls State being canceled because of Hurricane Isaac a few weeks ago.
That game will be made up in Corvallis at the end of the Beavers' schedule on Dec. 1, and is already the leading contender for Letdown Game of the Year on the collegiate gridiron. Oregon State will play at Stanford and then home against Cal and Oregon in the three weeks leading into the makeup game, the final conference game against the Ducks probably carrying both conference championship as well as BCS implications.
Mike Riley's team didn't let that cancellation bother them in a 10-7 win over the Wisconsin Badgers, however, and never needed the six points that college football oddsmakers were giving them against the then-No. 13 team in the land. Oregon State's defense played near flawless football, keeping Wisconsin off the board until a score with 91 ticks left on the clock.
Despite building a 10-0 halftime lead, QB Sean Mannion and the Beavers missed several opportunities to manufacture an even bigger advantage before stalling out on a couple drives and missing a field goal late in the second quarter. Mannion and OSU enjoyed an efficient and mistake-free day, but cannot afford to leave points on the field against a UCLA team that is 20th in the country scoring more than 40 per game.
UCLA won its third straight to begin the campaign with a 37-6 shellacking of Houston last week, and first-year head coach Jim Mora was especially pleased to see his defense play its best game so far. The Bruins surrendered 54 points total in wins over Rice and Nebraska to begin the campaign, but came within three minutes and one play of shutting out the Cougars who were 17½-point underdogs in LA.
Brett Hundley passed for 320 yards and a couple of scores, giving him eight TD tosses and a 154.2 QB rating on the year. But the redshirt freshman also tossed a couple of INTs and he'll be facing a solid Oregon State secondary led by sophomore safety Ryan Murphy and senior corner Jordan Poyer.
Hundley directs what has so far been a very balanced Bruins attack that is averaging over 300 yards per game both through the air and on the ground. UCLA ranks second in total offense (622 ypg) with senior Johnathan Franklin supplying a big chunk of that yardage on the ground with over 180 yards per game, first among all FBS running backs.
The Bruins' 27-19 win in Corvallis last year was their second straight in the series to give them a 41-15-4 all-time advantage. UCLA is 7-2 straight up the last nine, covering eight of those games. The 'under' is on a 4-year run, with the last three played at the Rose Bowl also failing to reach the total.
Saturday's forecast for Pasadena calls for the afternoon high reaching 90 with partly cloudy skies and no chance of rain.