#18 UCLA will head up the Pacific coast to Corvallis, Oregon for a matchup with #15 Oregon State this Saturday (10/14/23). Get UCLA vs. Oregon State predictions and best bets below as our best bet is UCLA +3.5.
UCLA Vs. Oregon State Prediction
Interestingly enough, two games into UCLA’s conference schedule, they already have two opponents in common with Oregon State. Perhaps even more curiously, they’ve attained opposite results in each of the two contests. Oregon State’s lone loss of the season was against Washington State, in a shootout where quarterback DJ Uiagalelei was just not efficient enough to keep pace. UCLA ‘s most recent game was against those same Cougars, but they picked up a comeback win thanks to a pair of Keegan Jones rushing scores and a gutsy end game from the defense.
The other opponent in common is Utah, which for UCLA, meant a clash of perhaps the conference’s two most defensively-oriented teams. Utah won that one by a score of 14-7, as highly talented true freshman quarterback Dante Moore had a litany of “rookie moments” in his first big road start as a Bruin. Oregon State also played a relatively slow-paced matchup with the Utes, but they pulled out a 21-7 victory.
So here we have another highly interesting and potentially very evenly-fought Pac-12 matchup, one more thrilling chapter before the sun sets on this magnificent conference’s storied history at the end of this season. Both of these teams are technically still alive for both the Pac-12 title and the College Football playoff, but that’s going to change after their matchup; whoever exits with two losses is likely done in both regards.
While these two teams are similar in terms of level, they are not when it comes to their approach to the game. By EPA per play, UCLA is 21st overall while Oregon State is 16th, but specifically in terms of offense, the metric has Oregon State 12th and UCLA 105th, while on defense it’s flipped, Oregon State is 53rd while UCLA is a remarkable third in the nation.
The Bruins defense is by all means legit. They were massively impressive in a dismantling of Coastal Carolina, very strong in the loss to Utah when the offense didn’t put them in great positions, and once again excellent against Washington State, as rising star Cameron Ward completed less than half of his passes and threw two interceptions to just one touchdown. They’re top-five by most metrics against the run, but Oregon State’s ground attack is of a similar caliber. Flip the matchup, and UCLA’s rushing attack also grades almost identically to Oregon State’s rushing offense, so how do we find separation between these two teams?
UCLA’s top-10 pass defense by EPA per play should be enough to fluster Uiagalelei, who has been mostly solid but has had trouble with tougher defenses. The big question is whether or not Moore has learned enough from the Utah experience. My belief is that he’s a big-time player and will rebound quickly, and not light up the stat sheet, but make enough plays to support the outstanding Bruins defense and cover this very favorable spread for a game that should be extremely close.
UCLA Vs. Oregon State Prediction: UCLA +3.5
UCLA Vs. Oregon State Best Odds
UCLA @ ORST
Oct. 14, 7:00 PM
Odds updated October 14th, 2023, at 10:23 pm
UCLA is a 3.5 point underdog on the road, giving us a very important half-point hook. The total is set at 54.5, and either side of both lines can be wagered at -110 odds.
UCLA Vs. Oregon State Key Matchups
Oregon State will look to establish the run against UCLA’s elite front seven to establish their will at home, while UCLA will need big plays through Moore and the air game. Let’s dig into these matchups and see how they could play out.
Oregon State Rushing Offense vs. UCLA Run Defense
One reason DJ Uiagalelei transferred all the way across the country to go to Oregon State is their absolutely loaded offensive line, which is also the centerpiece for the run game; they’re fourth in PFF’s run blocking grades. Right tackle Taliese Fuaga has been phenomenal with a grade over 90, while the rest of the line has scores in the mid-70s, the mark of a well-rounded unit. Damien Martinez leads the Pac-12 in rushing yards with 586 at a clip of 6.5 per carry, while Deshaun Fenwick has been almost as efficient, and Uiagalelei himself tops the list with five rushing touchdowns.
UCLA’s front seven has three starters with PFF run defense grades over 80, highlighted by linebacker Kain Medrano with a mark of 84.4. Edge rusher Gabriel Murphy is right behind with a grade of 83.8, and a run-stop rate of 12.2% and an average depth of tackle of 0.4 yards, while Keanu Williams anchors the d-line alongside Gary Smith III; the duo have combined to register nine run-stops.
Dante Moore vs. Oregon State Pass Defense
PFF considers the Oregon State secondary to be top-25, but the pass rush barely ranks in the top hundred squads. This is pretty good news for Moore, who like many other young passers struggles under pressure to the tune of a 38.5% completion rate and four turnover worthy plays, but when kept clean, he’s made 10 big time throws compared to just two turnover worthy ones.
So, the responsibility will likely fall to the Oregon State secondary to prevent Moore from having easy looks. Linebacker Easton Mascarenas leads the team with two interceptions, but actual defensive backs have totaled just two picks of their own. One came from stud safety Akili Arnold, who has earned a coverage grade of 85.1, and the other from corner Jermod McCoy who has actually struggled in general. That being said, Noble Thomas and Ryan Cooper Jr. have been strong at the position, meaning Moore will have his work cut out for him, whether or not he’s pressured.