The Stanford Cardinal just defeated UCLA Saturday for the fourth straight time, and now they are favored to do it again in the Pac-12 championship game. Thanks to that victory, the Cardinal hosts the Bruins at Stanford Stadium Friday night (8 p.m. ET, Fox). Most college football betting lines featured Stanford opening near -10 for this game, but most have since dropped that line to -8.
UCLA is just 1-6 ATS in its past seven tries at Stanford and they are 0-4 ATS in the past four losses overall. (Get Twitter updates on line moves and championship weekend injury updates.)
Neither of these teams was supposed to get this far this season, and a look back at the preseason Pac 12 betting odds bears this out. Oregon and USC were huge favorites, while Stanford was a distant 20/1 and UCLA was 30/1. Suffice to say that some bettors are sitting on fat payouts come Saturday.
The Cardinal, playing their first season of the post-Andrew Luck era, were supposed to finish somewhere behind the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12's North Division. Instead, Stanford beat Oregon in Eugene three weeks ago, giving the Cardinal the tie-breaker in the North, which came in handy when both teams finished at 8-1 in conference play.
UCLA, meanwhile, playing its first season under new head coach Jim Mora, Jr., was supposed to finish somewhere behind the USC Trojans in the Pac-12's South Division. Instead, the Bruins won five conference games five in a row and beat USC two weeks ago to win the North.
The Cardinal started 3-0 this year, with a win over USC, but then gave up a late lead and lost at Washington. Stanford then beat Arizona, lost a real tough game at Notre Dame, and hasn't lost since. Three weeks ago the Cardinal beat No. 11 Oregon State 27-23; two weeks ago they upset Oregon in overtime 17-14; and last week Stanford beat the Bruins in the Rose Bowl 35-17, outrushing UCLA 221-71.
All three of those victories came after the Cardinal made a change at QB, going with freshman Kevin Hogan. On the season Stanford has averaged 174 YPG rushing on offense, while the defense gave up just 71 YPG on the ground.
UCLA began this season 3-0, with a win over Nebraska, whom the Bruins could meet in another rematch in this year's Rose Bowl, if both win their conference championship games. UCLA then lost to Oregon State, beat Colorado but lost to Cal.
The Bruins then won five games in a row, capped off by a victory over Southern Cal that gave them the North Division title. UCLA then lost last week to Stanford, but the Bruins' motivation might be questioned just a bit, considering they had already clinched a spot in the conference championship game.
On the season UCLA averaged 196 YPG rushing, and allowed 153 YPG on the ground.
UCLA lost last year's inaugural Pac-12 championship game to Oregon 49-31.
Free Pac-12 Championship Game Pick: The line on this game has moved toward the Bruins, but we've been very impressed by what Stanford has done over the last month. So we'll give the points and go with the Cardinal. (Courtesy of PickShark.com.)
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