January 2, 2015 (Posted 5:00 PM ET)
Picks will be posted at 11:00 AM ET on Saturday and Sunday.
Take UCLA at +1 spread against Kansas State risking 3%
The UCLA Bruins and Kansas State Wildcats square off in the Alamo Bowl tonight. K-State defensive coordinator Tom Hayes went on record to talk about the UCLA offense prior to this matchup and he can be quoted as saying, "They do a lot of the same things that members of the Big 12 do on offense." We find that interesting because the Wildcats have had trouble with creative quarterbacks running up-tempo offenses in the Big 12 this season. Baylor’s Bryce Petty completed 34 of 40 passes for 412 yards in a 38-27 victory and TCU's Boykin threw for 219 yards and ran for another 123 in a 41-20 TCU victory! NFL prospect Brett Hundley should pose similar problems tonight.
Hundley is one of the most critiqued players on the Bruins roster. When UCLA wins, he's the hero. When they falter, the finger is pointed in his direction. However an important question that needs to be asked is where exactly would this team be without him? He has racked up 3,019 yards and 21 TDs through the air while throwing just 5 interceptions all season long! Besides him, UCLA has another element to their offense that has flown somewhat under the radar this season with RB Paul Perkins. Perkins doesn't dominate the headlines like Hundley but he's a quality back that is very tough to contain. He's rushed for 1,378 yards and 7 TDs and has shown up for some of the biggest matchups under the brightest lights, rushing for over 100 yards against each of Texas, Arizona State, Oregon and Stanford this year! He could be a big factor tonight.
Hundley's biggest problem this season has been his offensive line; they've let him get sacked 36 times! Obviously that's not all on the line and the dual-threat QB who is trying to set a pace and establish a rhythm in the offense is also partly to blame but he is fast improving. If the UCLA O-line can protect him just enough against the K-State D-line to let him settle in, he should be able to expose a somewhat depleted Wildcats secondary, which just lost safety Dylan Schellenberg to a broken leg! K State has also shown their ability to play conservative defense at times which could play right into UCLA's hands. The Bruins have been deadly when they have reached the red zone this season. This is a team that finishes drives. They rank second nationally in red-zone offense coming away with points in 44 of their 47 trips to the red zone this season!
The issue with Kansas State is they are somewhat of a one dimensional team. A staple of the Wildcats offense has always been a strong tailback and they simply don't have that workhorse this season. The entire offense seems to run through the arm (and legs) of Jake Waters. Waters is not the most accurate passer but has shown his ability to extend plays with his legs and find the open man downfield. His favorite target and go-to receiver has been Tyler Lockett who owns just about every single receiving record K-State has. Being able to contain Waters in the pocket and also keeping an eye on where Lockett is on the field are the keys to victory for the Bruins.
UCLA is a perfect 6-0 away from home this season! Unlike most teams, the Bruins have statistically played better on the highway than they have at home. Hundley is connecting on over 70% of his passes while his team puts up an average of 488 yards of offense per road game! Meanwhile the Wildcats have statistically been much worse on the road. Their defense has given up an average of 31 points per game away from home and their offense is averaging just over 8 points less! The disparity is huge and the Bruins have also had the daunting task of competing against the high-powered offenses of the PAC-12. They have faced the much tougher schedule of opponents this season and are stronger for it.
Baylor and TCU would be able to hang with Pac-12 teams with the style that they play and they both dispatched the Wildcats fairly comfortably. We feel that Hundley will be able to exploit a somewhat suspect Wildcats' defense that is missing 3 regulars. UCLA has had somewhat of an up and down season but when they have found their rhythm, they have been dominant! We believe they simply have more ways to win this game. This could be a close and entertaining game but the Bruins are more talented and Jim Mora's group is more battle-tested.
Other notable facts to consider:
- UCLA is a perfect 3-0 in non-conference games this season.
- Bill Snyder is 3-6 in his last 9 bowl appearances.
- UCLA is 9-2 in games played on turf over the last 3 seasons!
- Hundley is one of only two QB's to complete over 70% of passes, throw 20+ TD passes with 5 or less INTs.
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