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For the second time in six days, the UCLA Bruins (9-3 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) and Stanford Cardinal (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS) hook up. In an odd and unexpected twist, these two Pac-12 Conference foes met in the regular season finale, and then each clinched a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game to be played in Palo Alto, Calif.
Freshman QB Kevin Hogan and the Cardinal trucked the Bruins 35-17 in Pasadena last Saturday, and will now have the Bruins visiting their turf at Stanford Stadium. The line opened at 10 points, but bettors are dubious that the Cardinal can dominate for a second consecutive game. The line has dropped to around eight points.
Hogan and the pass game has been solid for Stanford, but watch out for RB Stepfan Taylor, too. He needs just 36 yards in Friday's game to pass Darrin Nelson for the school's all-time rushing yardage record. That's a mark which has stood since Nelson was on campus from 1977-81, so that tells you a little bit about how special Taylor is, especially considering this team has seen the likes of Tommy Vardell and, more recently, Toby Gerhart. Taylor has rumbled for 1,364 rushing yards with 13 touchdowns.
Also keep an eye on TE Zach Ertz when the going gets tough for the Cardinal offense. He is good for a team-leading 818 receiving yards, making plenty of difficult receptions to move the chains this season. Just ask Oregon how clutch Ertz was, as he had 11 grabs for a game-high 106 yards and a touchdown in Stanford's shocking overtime victory at Autzen Stadium against the then-unbeaten Oregon Ducks.
The Bruins have a pretty dominant back of their own in Johnathan Franklin. He was the nation's leader for a while earlier in the season. He needs 18 all-purpose yards to surpass former standout Maurice Jones-Drew for the school record. He is also within reach of the single-season rushing yardage mark, needing just 66 yards to supplant Karim Abdul-Jabbar in the record books.
While Franklin is good for 1,507 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, he is definitely not the only player for Stanford to be concerned about. QB Brett Hundley has rolled up 3,234 passing yards this season, with 771 yards of those yards going to 6-foot-1, 201-pound WR Shaquelle Evans, who is a nice target for the Bruins. TE Joseph Fauria has logged 11 receiving touchdowns, and is a huge target at 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds. He scored a touchdown last week against Stanford, and has found the end zone at least once in five straight games.
On the defensive end, UCLA CB Andrew Abbott is a ball hawk, posting a team-best four interceptions, and Stanford S Ed Reynolds roams the middle of the field, snaring a team-best five interceptions.
-- The Bruins are just 5-12 ATS in their past 17 road games, and UCLA is just 2-6 ATS in their past eight road games against a team with a winning record. The good news is that they have won four road games straight-up this season, which is the most since they won five games away from Pasadena back in 2002. The Bruins are 5-2 ATS in their past seven games against a team with a winning record.
-- For Stanford, they are 4-0 ATS in their past four games against a team with a winning record, and an impressive 17-5-1 ATS in their past 23 Pac-12 tilts. In addition, Stanford has won eight straight and 19 of their past 20 home games overall. Stanford has also covered six of their past seven games overall.
-- In head-to-head matchups, the favorite is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings, and the home team is 7-3 ATS in the past 10 meetings overall. UCLA hasn't had much success against Stanford lately, either. The Bruins are 1-6 ATS in their past seven trips to Palo Alto, and 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings overall.
-- If you're interested in betting the total, the over has come through in five consecutive games for UCLA, and six of the past seven. For Stanford, the over cashed last week, and has hit in two of the past three. However, the over is just 3-3 in the Cardinal's six home games this season. Tonight's total is hovering around 44 points.