Can Ducks beat the spread?

Oregon's line to beat UCLA has blossomed to 17
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
AP photo

One of the biggest questions for University of Oregon football fans heading into this weekend's game with UCLA probably isn't whether the Ducks can beat the Bruins at Autzen Stadium, but can they beat them by 17 or more points?

And, that's just Friday morning.

The betting line for the Oregon win in Saturday's 12:30 p.m. game on ESPN2 was 13.5 at the start of the week, but it's grown by more than a field goal since. Oregon enters the game at 2-0 and ranked No. 11, while UCLA is 1-1 and unranked.

Oregon is coming off a 43-29 win over Washington State, and won its season-opener 35-14 over Stanford.

UCLA lost 48-42 at Colorado in its opener, then throttled Cal 34-10 on Sunday in a game that was invented after it's scheduled game Friday with Utah was cancelled due to Covid the day before. So, UCLA had just two days to prepare for the Bears, who had their game with Arizona State wiped out to Covid, too.

Obviously, those in the know and with money in hand that says they know what's what, think the Ducks are set to throttle the Bruins and continue their march to the College Football Playoffs.

There is plenty of concern, though, for those who've watched Oregon's two wins, which have concluded with the team having five more turnovers on their side that the opposition's side. Were it not for Stanford's four missed field goals, and that incredibly blown coverage at the end of the first half of the Washington State game, the outcome of both wins might have been drastically different.

It's not hard to think the Ducks could fairly easily be 0-2 entering Saturday's game.

Probably the best thing for fans entering the weekend is that the Ducks won, they simply won regardless of the point outcome. That's the most promising sign for a team of destiny - winning the crappy games. Far too often in the past five years, Oregon has lost those games, and to those specific teams: Stanford and WSU. Who doesn't remember first-and-goal at the one against Stanford and the snap three feet over Justin Herbert's head that turned into a 99-yard fumble return? And, then a loss.

Oregon has played like an Aloha Bowl team for much of its two wins. If Stanford had made all four of its field goals, the Cardinal would have been trailing just 28-26 in the fourth quarter. But, the Ducks also missed a field goal, so there's also points that don't show.

And, Oregon trailed 19-7 with 20 seconds left in the first half against WSU when quarterback Tyler Shough hooked up with wideout Jaylon Redd for a 57-yard pass to the WSU 3. CJ Verdell promptly ran for a short touchdown and that bumped the score to 19-14.

Oregon got the second-half kickoff and drove down the field for a touchdown and a 21-19 lead ... oh wait, the Ducks drove to the WSU 19, but missed a field goal.

The next four drives, though, were touchdowns, and it's that string of scores that likely is still resting in bettors' heads.

UCLA's win Sunday included an impressive stretch of four touchdowns on five drives. But, that was in the first half, which ended 27-10. In the second half the Bruins had one touchdown, two punts and two turnovers on downs. Their second half went the opposite of Oregon's.

So, the line was 17 on Friday. Morning. Can Oregon beat UCLA by 18? Maybe they'll have to win by more by the time kickoff arrives.

 

 

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