By Brad Carroll
The big-time college football festivities kick off a little earlier this week, as a game featuring two ranked teams highlights the pre-Saturday action. No. 18 UCLA, which had College Football Playoff aspiration until losing to Arizona State two weeks ago, takes on No. 15 Stanford, which has won four impressive games in a row after losing at home to Northwestern in its season opener.
Both teams need a victory to keep their flickering Playoff hopes alive. We analyze the game and our college football experts pick the winner against the spread below. Check back for all of our Saturday picks on the website later, and follow us on Twitter to keep track with all of our previews and picks.
No. 18 UCLA at No. 15 Stanford, 10:30 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: UCLA +6.5; Stanford -6.5
Analysis: UCLA was in the midst of proving all of its detractors, myself included, wrong after winning its first four games of the season, including a 56-30 beat-down of then-No. 16 Arizona on the road. That road win had college football fans starting to believe these Bruins would be playing for a shot to win the national championship. But two weeks ago, those hopes came crashing down with a 38-23 loss to unranked Arizona State. UCLA had an extra week to prepare for the Cardinal, which is good because coach Jim Mora has never beaten Stanford, and Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan is going for his fifth career win over the Bruins. Other than the Stanford domination over the Bruins in years past, the two teams are otherwise even in virtually every stat, both offensive and defensive. Stanford will be looking to run the ball on UCLA, something it has done in previous meetings. The Cardinal average just under 210 rushing yards per game, while UCLA has allowed just under 200 yards per game on the ground. Besides the running game, Hogan will have the spotlight. If he plays well, the Cardinal should win. But that's a big if, as Hogan is one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the nation, especially when considering he's a longtime starter. Stanford is on one heck of a roll, and that shouldn't end at home, although the final score will be close.
Brad's Score: Stanford 28, UCLA 24
Craig's Score: UCLA 28, Stanford 27 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: UCLA 31, Stanford 27 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: UCLA 35, Stanford 20 (upset pick)