Week 4 - Oregon State at UCLA

Posted Sep 19, 2012

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction – Oregon State at UCLA

Oregon State (1-0) at UCLA (3-0) Sept. 22, 3:30, ESPN2

Here's The Deal: There are five remaining unbeaten Pac-12 teams. The fact that UCLA and Oregon State are two of them speaks to the unpredictable nature of college athletics. The Bruins under first-year head coach Jim Mora have arguably been the biggest surprise of the season's first month, going from obscurity to No. 19 in the polls. While its signature moment came in a Week 2 upset of Nebraska, the program added an exclamation point with last week's 37-6 drubbing of Houston. The stakes get even higher for Mora & Co. now that Pac-12 play is beginning. Oregon State is a gigantic mystery to just about everyone at this stage of the season, even quite possibly itself. The Beavers are the only team in America that's played just one game, and it happened to be an upset of then-ranked Wisconsin. Are they a threat in the league, or were the Badgers just that overrated? A trip to the Rose Bowl will begin to provide more answers about Mike Riley's squad.

Why Oregon State Might Win: Yeah, the Badgers are having issues on offense, but that Beavers D still looked pretty feisty in the opener. It's especially good on the perimeter, with Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn at end, Michael Doctor and D.J. Welch at outside linebacker and CB Jordan Poyer neutralizing the other team's best wide receiver. On offense, Oregon State figures to have more success than it did two weeks ago, especially with the extra prep time. However, the dangerous Sean Mannion-to-Markus Wheaton hook-up will need to navigate CB Sheldon Price and a Bruins pass defense that's picked off six passes and yielded no touchdowns over the last two games.

Why UCLA Might Win: The Bruins will look to exploit the middle of the Beavers defense, which is softer than the flanks. They'll turn loose RB Johnathan Franklin, who leads the nation with 541 yards on the ground. If Oregon State stacks the box, QB Brett Hundley has looked capable of making opponents pay by connecting with TE Joseph Fauria and WR Devin Lucien. The UCLA defense is actually evolving faster than the offense these days. DE Datone Jones, for one, is having a breakout senior year, applying the steady pressure off the edge that forces opposing passers to make poor decisions. The nation's No. 11 pass efficiency defense is getting a big assist from the pass rush.

What To Watch Out For: Few players on the UCLA roster have benefitted more from the arrival of Mora and his staff than LB Anthony Barr, who played offense prior to this spring. Now a starter at one of the two outside positions, he's parlayed his size, athleticism and instincts into a fast start to his junior year. Barr has more than solidified a unit that lost Patrick Larimore just prior to the start of the season; he's helped elevate the pass rush with four tackles for loss and three sacks through three games.

What Will Happen: The verdict will finally begin coming in on Oregon State: It's improved from the 2011 edition, but hasn't blossomed at the same level as UCLA. The Bruins are starting to click on both sides of the ball, an exciting development in Westwood. Yeah, there'll be hiccups along the way, but not this week. They'll continue to ride the broad shoulders of Franklin, with steady support from Hundley on the ground and over the top. The D will continue to forge ahead, keeping in check a vanilla Beavers offense.

CFN Prediction: UCLA 31 … Oregon State 21
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) UCLA -8 O/U: 53.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ray Lewis: A Football Life, 1 – Frankenweenie): 3