UCLA and Arizona State had a bit more buzz a few weeks ago, when it was presumed to be a showdown between two of the Pac-12's best quarterbacks in Brett Hundley and Taylor Kelly. Now, Kelly is out and junior Mike Bercovici will be starting for the Sun Devils, while Hundley's status is up in the air, although ASU coach Todd Graham expects him to be out there on Thursday night. Arizona State has had little trouble through three weeks against Weber State, New Mexico, and Colorado. UCLA's stretch has been tougher; the Bruins have traveled to an improved Virginia, hosted Memphis, and had a "neutral" site game against Texas in Arlington. Jim Mora's club is 3-0, but none of the wins have been pretty, especially for a team that has College Football Playoff aspirations.
Date: Thursday, Sep. 25
Time: 10:00 p.m. ET
Channel: Fox Sports 1
Location: Sun Devil Stadium (Tempe, AZ)
Betting Line: UCLA -4 via 5Dimes
Prediction: If Taylor Kelly was available, and Brett Hundley was 100%, this would be an amazing game for a Thursday night. Unfortunately for football fans, it seems as if we may get a quarterback undercard with Bercovici and Jerry Neuheisel under center. If Hundley is good enough to go, UCLA should have a distinct advantage on paper, although the Bruins are yet to put together a complete performance as a team. Against Memphis, the offense clicked and put up 42 points, but the defense faltered, keeping a Tigers team that has really struggled in recent years in the game. In the other two games, the defense has played better, but the offense has been inconsistent.
If this game comes down to both back-ups, we still like Jerry Neuheisel, who has been a bit more impressive in limited time than Bercovici. Against Texas in front of what was likely a partisan crowd, Neuheisel went 23-for-30 for 178 yards and two touchdowns. UCLA -4 feels like the better bet here, although it is difficult to judge based on a questionable quarterback situation.