Few games for Week 13 in the 2014 College Football season appear likely to have major significance on the College Football Playoff picture. While this may not be a huge game to the national championship landscape (the winner has a chance to face Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game in two weeks), it is a big game in the Pac-12 and particularly in the Los Angeles area (for fans, teams, players, coaches and recruits alike). UCLA hosts USC in a contest that may not ultimately be very close, especially with respect to the small spread.
UCLA is 8-2 straight-up, yet just 3-7 against-the-spread versus the eleventh ranked FBS schedule to-date. The Bruins currently rank 16th in our College Football Power Rankings, the second highest ranking of any Pac-12 team. UCLA may be led by a more defensive oriented coach in Jim Mora Jr., but the Bruins thrive offensively, ranking in the Top 20 in rushing and passing efficiency. Quarterback Brett Hundley leads the way completing 72% of his passes for 8.4 yards-per-pass, 24 total touchdowns and four interceptions. In the Bruins two losses, which have come by just 14 points combined to two teams in the College Football Playoff committee's top 17 (Oregon and Utah), the offense still scored 58 combined points and Hundley topped 70% completions and eight yards-per-pass in each.
USC may be talented, yet there have certainly been some ups and downs in head coach Steve Sarkisian's first season running the program. The Trojans rank 20th in our College Football Power Rankings and have wins over Stanford, Arizona and others, but they also lost on the road to Boston College and at home on a Hail Mary to Arizona State. Overall, USC is 7-3 straight-up and 5-5 ATS versus the 29th ranked FBS slate. The Trojans are also among the nation's leaders in pass efficiency, yet they struggle to find explosive plays on the ground and have had issues with teams that can run the ball well. Boston College rushed for 452 yards on 54 carries (8.4 yards-per-carry) against USC in an upset earlier this season and USC ranks just 34th nationally against the run.
UCLA has an elite home field advantage (worth more than the traditional three points - which is significant to this line) and a matchup advantage with dual threat, mobile quarterback Brett Hundley likely able to exploit a relatively weak USC run defense.
According to 50,000 games played by the Predictalator at PredictionMachine.com, UCLA wins over USC 58.1% of the time and by an average score of 39-30. As three point favorites winning more than a touchdown on average, the Bruins cover the spread 55.2% of the time, which would justify a $30 play from a normal $50 better. The total goes OVER 61 56.2% of the time, which warrants a wager of $40 from a normal $50 player. There are 12 stronger totals and 14 stronger against-the-spread plays according to our Week 12 analysis.