UCLA vs. Utah kicks off this Saturday at 3:30pm EST in Salt Lake City as a home game for the Utes. Utah is currently a -4.5 favorite and -185 on the moneyline while the total is set at 51.5. Read on for more UCLA vs. Utah best bets and predictions as UCLA looks to pull off the upset.
UCLA Vs. Utah Prediction & Best Bet
Both Utah and UCLA came into the season with question marks surrounding the quarterback position and both units have managed to wave through the struggles to a perfect record as they set up to do battle this Saturday. While UCLA has managed to find their answer in Dante Moore, Utah is still currently dealing with the uncertainty with Cam Rising and his injury.
Unfortunately for bettors, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham is notorious for keeping his cards close to his vest in terms of if Cam Rising will be able to give it a go. Lucky for bettors, it may not matter if Cam Rising plays or not as UCLA is in a great position to generate the upset off the backs of their defense and playmaking abilities of Dante Moore.
Starting with the defense, expectations were that they would field one of the better front sevens in the Pac 12. While they have struggled with early down success by ranking 65th in Overall Def Success Rate, the Bruins have done an excellent job at limiting Explosiveness and Points per Opportunity by ranking 11th in both metrics. Simply put, opposing teams have found mid field success but their progression comes to a drastic halt once they cross the 40.
As for Utah, the offense has fallen off a cliff without their star quarterback under center. Normally known for their ability to take care of the ball and move down the field with ease, Utah’s offense has mightily struggled with generating any sort of consistency. Utah currently ranks a lowly 99th in Off Pass Success Rate and 77th in Off Rush Success Rate. Explosiveness is also non-existent, clocking in at 97th in that department.
Even if Cam Rising is able to give it a go in a desperation attempt to keep their Pac 12 championship hopes alive, it’s hard to imagine he is even at 80% as it has been less than ten months since he tore his ACL and was limited in the offseason. The passing accuracy would be a slight upgrade, but his pocket elusiveness and scrambling ability would be negated.
UCLA Vs. Utah Prediction & Best Bet: UCLA ML
UCLA Vs. Utah Betting Odds
Even with injuries concerns plaguing the Utah roster, oddsmakers still have them as the slight favorite by opening them at -4.5 A sharp decrease from the lookahead line as Utah was as high as -8 a few months ago. While +4.5 is certainly a playable number for those who want to back UCLA, I would recommend grabbing their moneyline as they have the ability to generate the upset in what would be a massive win for the Bruins.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a quick pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 56.5. Bettors are in disagreement with the oddsmakers, taking the under down to as low as 52.5 in some shops as of writing. This comes as no surprise as the Utah offense will struggle to do their part towards the over as their lack of consistency will result in early outs and stalled out drives.
UCLA Vs. Utah Key Matchups
Can UCLA’s Dante Moore continue to shred opposing secondaries?
Dante Moore Vs. Utah Secondary
Since securing the starting job, Dante Moore has been one of the most electric quarterbacks in football. He can put the ball on a rope and hit his receivers in stride, shredding opposing secondaries and keeping the offense moving. Since taking the job, UCLA’s pass attack ranks 36th in Pass Success Rate, 36th in Pass PPA, and 12th in Pass Explosiveness.
It’s only been three games, but Dante Moore is SPECIAL.
87.3 grade so far this season and a 9.4% big-time throw rate that’s 8th in the Power Five.
True freshman showing why he was the #3 overall recruit coming out of HS. pic.twitter.com/5oTkJUr2VO
— Max Chadwick (@MaxChadwickCFB) September 18, 2023
Moore now gets his first real test against a Utah secondary who ranks top-10 in Def Success Rate. They have done a masterful job at limiting the short throw yet have allowed lesser competition to beat them over the top with a near league average Def Explosiveness rank.
Better yet, Moore will find himself with more open passing lanes should their run game hit the ground running. Utah has fared slightly worse at defending the run over the course of the game, now having to send extra attention to running back Carson Steele as he can burn a defense at a moment’s notice.