The Stanford Cardinals will look to pull off another upset against #25 UCLA as the Bruins come to town this Saturday (10/21/23) sporting one of the best defenses in the country. Get UCLA vs. Stanford predictions below as our best bet is under 54.5 points.
UCLA Vs. Stanford Prediction
Stanford’s season had gotten off to a truly dreadful 1-4 start that saw them blown out by rivals USC and Oregon, and even included a loss to FCS Sacramento State, where Cardinal head coach Troy Taylor worked last season. But now, new life has been injected into this campaign with one of the more electrifying comebacks you’ll see this year at any level of football. Stanford fell behind on the road at Colorado by a score of 29-0 before going on a 36-7 run capped off with a Joshua Karty field goal with no time left to send the game into overtime.
The rest is history; it took two overtimes and another Karty kick, but the Cardinal pulled off the upset and capped off the biggest comeback in school history over coach Deion Sanders and his Colorado Buffaloes. It was more or less a two-man show for Stanford; quarterback Ashton Daniels came in after starter Justin Lamson struggled early on, and finally put the team’s quarterback controversy to rest with nearly 400 passing yards and four scores without an interception, and he even led the team in rushing.
Stanford’s other star was Elic Ayomanor, who absolutely exploded against Colorado, even when covered by phenom Travis Hunter. He more than doubled his to-date season production with a remarkable 13 catches for 293 receiving yards and three touchdowns, including a catch of the year candidate to tie the game in overtime.
Ayomanor and Daniels will be receiving a much stiffer test this weekend, as UCLA’s defense is one of the Nation’s best- in fact, if you ask PFF, it is the very best one in college football this year. EPA per play dissents, but only by a small margin, as the metric grades UCLA as the fifth-best defense in the FBS. This isn’t an all-flash Chip Kelly squad of years past; this is a gritty, physical unit that can put the clamps on any offense.
The questions are on the other side of the football, where true freshman quarterback Dante Moore has shown tons of promise, but the questions remain about whether he’s ready just yet to lead a true contender. He hasn’t done nearly as well in road environments, including both of the Bruins’ two losses, one of which was a dismal seven-point offensive effort at Utah.
Palo Alto isn’t the most feared road trip in the Pac-12, but it will still be an interesting test of how far Moore has come. That being said, you’d hope that against Stanford’s 130th-ranked defense by EPA per play, he should be fine no matter what, especially as Carson Steele and the run game should have no issue setting the table.
Stanford had an outing to remember against Colorado, and there are real positives to hang onto with the offense, but unfortunately, this is a really bad matchup for them. UCLA’s defense is strong enough to easily neutralize the team’s one relative strength, and the Cardinal defense isn’t nearly enough to push Moore into a bad road performance.
This number is way too high considering that Stanford shouldn’t contribute at all, and UCLA could take their foot off the gas pedal at some point in the second half. If the Bruins’ offense falters a little bit on the road, this under will hit, and even if not, Kelly might handle it conservatively enough that the scoring slows down anyway.
UCLA Vs. Stanford Prediction: Under 54.5 (-105)
UCLA vs Stanford Best Odds
UCLA is a 17 point favorite and -800 on the moneyline, compared to +550 for Stanford, while the total is set at 54.5
UCLA Vs. Stanford Key Matchups
If UCLA can slow down Ayomanor and the other skills, they should be golden, but can Stanford hang in there on the defensive side?
Stanford Pass Catchers vs. UCLA Secondary
It’s not just Ayomanor, who will of course be the center of attention after his historic day. Stanford’s offense also features star tight end Benjamin Yurosek, who may or may not be active against UCLA after exiting the Colorado game with an injury. Tiger Bachmeier also made a couple of nice plays against the Buffs, while Mudia Reuben was quieter but has had his moments on other days.
UCLA’s secondary has been anchored by stud cornerback duo Alex Johnson, who leads the team with three picks, and John Humphrey. They don’t have any particularly excellent coverage linebackers right now, Darius Muasau is probably the best and he has earned a PFF coverage grade of just 66.3, so it will be interesting to see how they handle the challenge of Yurosek, if he is able to go.
Dante Moore vs. Stanford Pass Rush
Stanford’s defense is ranked as the worst of any Power Five school by PFF, and EPA per play pretty much tells the same story, but the pass rush at least theoretically features some talent. David Bailey is probably the team’s best defensive player off the edge, while Tobin Phillips has been strong anchoring the interior. They’ll be going up against a UCLA o-line that ranks outside of the top-100 in PFF’s pass protection grades, so there will be opportunities for success.
As is the case with so many talented but inexperienced passers, pressure is a great way to limit Moore’s production. He has committed turnover worthy plays on 6.6% of his snaps under pressure and completed just 44% of his passes, compared to figures of 4.8% and 53.5% when kept clean.