ESPN's SP+ predicts the score of UCLA's game against Arizona State
Is this a potential trap game for… UCLA?
The 12th-ranked Bruins are still two weeks away from their massive collision with USC at the Rose Bowl, and they head to Tempe this week to battle an Arizona State squad on an interim head coach with a losing record. The Bruins have only lost once in eight games this season, and that was on the road against a top-10 opponent.
But history is on the side of Arizona State.
The Sun Devils have won three of their last five meetings with UCLA overall. This season, they’ve also won two of their last three games, topping 40 points each time to coincide with Trenton Bourguet’s presence at quarterback. They’ve already beaten an AP Top 25 team this year (UCLA ranks 10th in the AP poll), and have won each of their last three home games against AP Top 10 opponents — 31-28 over No. 6 Oregon (2019), 13-7 over No. 5 Washington (2017), and 55-31 over No. 8 Notre Dame (2014).
Might the Sun Devils cause some chaos atop the Pac-12 this weekend?
Bill Connelly’s SP+ says that answer is a resounding no.
The predictive model is calling for a 38-24 UCLA win.
In fact, Connelly himself wrote that UCLA covering what is a 10.5-point spread at publication is one of his favorite bets of the week:
The ASU offense found some life last week, with former walk-on Trenton Bourguet throwing for 435 yards against Colorado. He could enjoy a decent day against UCLA’s bend-don’t-break defense, too. But the Sun Devils also gave up 359 yards and (with help from a punt return) 34 points to Colorado’s destitute offense. ASU ranks 74th in defensive SP+, while UCLA ranks sixth on offense. That should give the Bruins a healthy advantage.
UCLA responded well to its first loss by handling Stanford last week at the Rose Bowl, 38-13. The Bruins have topped 30 points every game this season and topped 40 in five of the eight. They’ve topped 500 yards of offense four times and put up 499 in the win over Washington.
When Bourguet has seen his most extensive action, it’s come against two of the Pac-12’s poorer pass defenses (by yards allowed per play). How will he fare against what is statistically the Pac-12’s best pass defense?
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT on FS1.