UCLA Bruins Vs. NC State Wolfpack Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (12/28/21)

Despite being labeled the away team in the Holiday Bowl, UCLA doesn’t have to travel far to take on NC State at Petco Park, home to the San Diego Padres. That’s where the advantages begin and end for the Bruins as they drew a brutal matchup against the 18th-ranked Wolfpack that has wins over UNC and Clemson this season. NC State can reach ten wins for the first time since 2002 with a win in this game, and they will be looking to carry the momentum from wins in four of their last five games to a victory in the Holiday Bowl.

UCLA Vs. NC State Betting Odds

UCLA Bruins Betting Odds

In Chip Kelly’s fourth season at UCLA, he finally led the Bruins to a winning record as they finished 8-4. That record is a bit disappointing after they ranked 13th in the AP Poll following wins over Hawaii and LSU the first two weeks. However, this season, the Bruins have some ugly losses on their schedule, including Arizona State and Fresno State. While they did win their last three games, including a 29-point win over USC, the Bruins are a below-average team in arguably the worst Power Five conference.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson had a solid season with 30 total touchdowns (21 passing, nine rushing), but he hasn’t elevated his play the way coaches hoped for over the past few years. Thompson-Robinson leads a talented rushing offense featuring Zach Charbonnet, a Michigan transfer, who ran for 1,137 yards and 13 touchdowns in the regular season. UCLA ranked 15th in the country with 215.1 rushing yards per game. Kyle Phillips, the fourth-year wideout, led the team with ten receiving touchdowns.

The UCLA defense isn’t nearly as efficient as its downhill running offense, and the Bruins allowed the most passing yards per game in the Pac-12. That spells trouble against NC State’s Devin Leary, who’s arguably the least-celebrated good quarterback in the country. UCLA improved against the pass over the second half of the season. Still, it also didn’t face as many top-level passing offenses, and certainly none the caliber of Leary’s Wolfpack.

NC State Wolfpack Betting Odds

Dave Doeren has been the NC State head coach since 2013, and he’s looking to accomplish something that hasn’t been done since 2002 with a 10-win season. While Doeren hasn’t reached that particular milestone, he has had a winning record in seven of his nine seasons as the team’s head coach and has a 3-2 bowl game record over that span. This season, the Wolfpack put together an impressive resume in a very balanced ACC with plenty of good teams.

Devin Leary has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country this season. ACC fans fawn over Kenny Pickett and Sam Howell, but Leary deserves a lot of credit for the work he’s put in this year. He finished the regular season with 3,433 passing yards and 35 touchdowns to five interceptions. Leary will have his full complement of support for this game, including offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu who is expected to play in this game despite his standing as a projected first-round pick in the NFL. That should show how serious this team is about getting its tenth win.

NC State’s defense was dominant this year, as well, as they allowed just 19.7 points per game, 16th-fewest in the country. Linebackers Payton Wilson and Isaiah Moore got injured early in the year, but Drake Thomas stepped up in their absence with 99 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, nine QB hurries, and three interceptions. Thomas earned more ACC First-Team votes than all but one player. The Wolfpack have a stout run defense that should prove a worthy adversary to UCLA’s rushing offense, one of the best in the country.

UCLA Bruins Vs. NC State Wolfpack Picks & Prediction

The Trends

  • Bruins are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games against a team with a winning record
  • Wolfpack are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 bowl games as a favorite
  • Over is 7-1 in the Bruins’ last 8 games against a team with a winning record
  • Over is 9-1 in the Wolfpack’s last 10 neutral site games

The Prediction

There’s a sense of desperation building around UCLA’s football program with Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a senior playing his last game, Chip Kelly not getting the level of results that were hoped for, and USC hiring Lincoln Riley to reshape the power balance of LA college football. However, that desperation gets a date with destiny as NC State looks for its first ten-win season since 2002, and I like the Wolfpack to accomplish its goal. Devin Leary will push a susceptible Bruins’ pass defense to the brink while NC State’s run defense should do enough to slow down UCLA’s elite rushing offense. Still, I expect both offenses to move the ball, and I think we’re in for a treat. The ACC was better than the Pac-12 this season, and the Wolfpack are more battle-tested than the Bruins. Combine that with the unmistakable sense of determination surrounding that program, and I think NC State gets the win in what should be one of the most fun games of bowl season.

My Pick: NC State wins 35-28, NC State covers, over 60.5 points

I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

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