Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#203 Fresno State vs.
#204 UCLA
Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 10:45pm EDT
Written by Nick Raffoul

The Fresno State Bulldogs will travel to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on Saturday afternoon for a non-conference showdown against the No. 13-ranked UCLA Bruins.

After a pair of convincing wins, UCLA finds itself ranked in the top-25 for the first time this season. Powered by a high-octane rushing attack, the Bruins upset 18th-ranked LSU last week to improve to 2-0. Meanwhile, Fresno State enters with a 2-1 overall record with its lone defeat coming at the hands of then-No. 11-Oregon.

Can the Bruins remain undefeated and knock off Fresno State at home on Saturday night?

Fresno State relishing another chance at a Top-25 win

Fresno State improved to 2-1 last week with a commanding 63-10 victory at home over Cal Poly. Jake Haener threw for 380 yards with four touchdowns while adding two rushing touchdowns on the ground. The Bulldogs outgained Cal Poly 671 to 274 on the night, as the defense limited the Mustangs to just 3.8 yards per play in the win. Four different receivers caught touchdowns for the Bulldogs, led by sophomore Josh Kelly hauled in three passes for 127 yards and two scores in the win.

After giving No. 11-Oregon all it could handle a few weeks ago, Fresno State will have another shot at an upset against a nationally-ranked opponent this week. Haener will be looking for a bounce-back game after being held to just 6.9 yards per attempt against the Ducks. After emerging as the unquestioned starter last year, the 6-foot-1 senior has been excellent under center for Fresno State through three games. Haener has thrown for 1,009 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions so far this season.

On defense, the Bulldogs have surrendered only 13.7 points per game and 246.3 yards of total offense, which ranks 13th in the nation. Fresno State’s defense also ranks 34th in the country against the run at 91.3 rushing yards per game. However, they will get their biggest test of the season against a UCLA run game that ranks 28th in the nation.

Upset win catapults UCLA into Top-25

UCLA earned its first marquee victory of the season on Saturday, taking down No. 18-ranked LSU at home 38-27. Dorian Thompson-Robinson finished 9-of-16 passing for 260 yards with three touchdowns and only one interception on the day. The Bruins leaned on their ground game, racking up 210 yards and 4.5 yards per carry in the win. Michigan transfer Zach Charbonnet rushed 11 times for 117 yards and a score while Brittain Brown added 96 yards and a touchdown in the win.

Charbonnet has been a valuable addition to the Bruins’ backfield this season. Expected to be part of a 1-2 punch, the 6-foot-1 junior has stolen the show in his first season at UCLA, rushing for at least 100 yards and a touchdown in each of his first two games in a Bruins’ uniform despite racking up a grand total of 17 carries. Charbonnet has compiled 223 yards and four touchdowns in two games while averaging a whopping 13.1 yards per carry.

Thompson-Robinson has also played well under center. Despite throwing his first interception of the season last week, the senior quarterback has done a good job of managing Chip Kelly’s offense this season. He has thrown for 390 yards with four touchdowns and one pick so far this year.

On defense, the Bruins come in allowing 18.5 points and 324 yards of total offense per game. UCLA has been particularly stout against the run, giving up just 37.5 rushing yards per game, fourth in the FBS.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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This could be a trap game for the Bruins, who will open the PAC-12 season on the road at Stanford next week. With a hard-nosed defense and a viable option under center, Fresno State is expected to be among the best teams in the Mountain West this season. In the last meeting between these two teams on September 15, 2018, the Bulldogs defeated the Bruins in Pasadena, 38-14. Haener’s ability to take care of the football and move the ball through the air should be a difference-maker for the Bulldogs, who have held their own against the run this year. Take Fresno State to cover the spread on the road at UCLA on Saturday night.

Prediction: Fresno State Bulldogs +11.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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The Bulldogs have already played a nationally-ranked Power 5 opponent this season, so we have a good idea of how well Fresno State’s play translates against top competition. The Bulldogs defense limited Oregon to just 3.8 yards per carry on the ground and should be able to hold their own at the point of attack once again this week. Meanwhile, UCLA’s defense has also been better than expected this year, which should help this from turning into an all-out shootout. Take this game to stay under the projected total in Pasadena on Saturday night. 

Prediction: Under 63
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Written By Nick Raffoul , "Nick Raffoul"

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. He has been a very successful sports bettor over the years and has now brought his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.