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It's a classic Pac-12 after-dark matchup during Friday's Week 5 college football slate. The UCLA Bruins will host the 15th-ranked Washington Huskies in an undefeated intra-conference clash. Handicapper Matt MacKay is here to make his predictions.
ANALYSIS

UCLA vs. Washington Prediction, Pick, and Odds: Can Michael Penix Jr. and the Huskies Stay Undefeated?

Friday's marquee matchup features the 15th-ranked Washington Huskies hitting the road for the first time this season against the undefeated UCLA Bruins. Both offenses are loaded with talent but the coaching personnel is in different phases. After going 4-8 and 3-6 against conference opponents, the Huskies canned former head coach Jimmy Lake in favor of Kalen DeBoer. DeBoer previously led Fresno State to a 9-3 record in 2021 and inherits a talented Huskies roster that includes a pair of transfer players in its backfield.

Junior quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been lights out for Washington through its first four games, completing 92 passes for 1,388 yards, 12 touchdowns, and only one interception. A former quarterback in the Big Ten at Indiana University, Penix Jr. is a sturdy 6-3, 213-pounds and is a pure pocket passer with a rare combination of accuracy and strength in his release. He's joined by graduate transfer Wayne Taulapapa in the backfield. Tualapapa was a former running back for the University of Virginia before serving as Washington's leading rusher this season, averaging 6.4 YPC and scoring four total touchdowns.

UCLA has looked very impressive during Chip Kelly's fifth-year coaching the program. Sure, Kelly's overall record is 18-25 as the Bruins' head coach, however, he went 8-4 in 2021 and finished 6-3 inside the Pac-12. He led the Bruins on a three-game winning streak to close out the 2021 season, scoring at least 42 points in each of these victories. The defense improved throughout the year and held firm in 2022, allowing 18 points per game to its opponents.

Can Kelly keep the Bruins undefeated and pull off the upset win as home underdogs? Here are our picks, predictions, and odds for Friday's game between Washington Huskies vs. UCLA Bruins.

UCLA vs. WASHINGTON START TIME AND WHERE TO WATCH

Date: Friday, September 30

Game time: 10:30 pm ET

Where to Watch: ESPN

UCLA vs. WASHINGTON ODDS

Spread: Washington -2.5 (-125), UCLA +2.5 (+105)

Total: Over 65 (-110), Under 65 (-110)

Moneyline: Washington (-150), UCLA (+130)

Click Here for UCLA vs. Washington Odds

UCLA vs. WASHINGTON INJURY REPORT

WASHINGTON

DL Armon Parker (Questionable - Undisclosed), S Tristan Dunn (Questionable - Undisclosed)

UCLA

DL Martin Andrus Jr. (Questionable - Leg)

UCLA vs. WASHINGTON PREDICTION

It's easy to get excited about both explosive offenses featured in this game. UCLA is led by senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who is a super-senior and is now in his fifth year with the Bruins. This also means that Thompson-Robinson has spent his entire career under the tutelage of Kelly, who became a household name with his play-calling at the University of Oregon. The Bruins spread the ball out on offense, with 14 players scoring at least one touchdown this season.

Kelly deploys a three-pronged rushing attack led by Zach Charbonnet, who is averaging 6.8 YPC and has four rushing touchdowns. He's also a threat in the passing game, converting eight receptions for an additional 87 receiving yards. Junior running back Keegan Jones is no slouch either, toting 40 carries for 178 yards and a touchdown, while also hauling in six receptions for 87 receiving yards and a touchdown. Thompson-Robinson is the third weapon in Kelly's spread option offensive scheme, using the scheme and his mobility to average 8.1 YPC with two rushing touchdowns. Don't forget the 8:1 touchdown to interception ratio as well. The Bruins are the real deal on offense.

Penix Jr. is equally talented, if not more so than Thompson-Robinson. He is at a disadvantage in terms of continuity and familiarity since Penix transferred from Indiana this offseason. The arrival of the Huskies' head coach, Kalen DeBoer, has also sparked a resurgence in the offense. It feels like he's been calling plays in the Pacific Northwest for years, even though he's only made it through four games in Seattle. Granted, these have been blowouts, with the closest win margin winding up as a 39-28 win over Michigan State. The Huskies went up 22-0 early in the second quarter and allowed the Spartans to creep back into the game during garbage time. It was never truly close.

Looking at trends in this matchup, UCLA sticks out. The Bruins may be undefeated at 4-0, however, they are 1-2 ATS at home and only getting three points against the best team they have played all season. We don't know how Penix Jr. will handle the environment during his first road game as a member of the Washington Huskies, but he struggled on the road in 2021 with the Hoosiers. Penix went 1-2 straight up and threw four interceptions with zero touchdowns across three road games against Iowa, Western Kentucky, and Penn State. He's surrounded by superior players and coaching personnel in Washington, which is an important distinction to consider.

UCLA and Washington have split their last two matchups. UCLA won 24-17 at Husky Stadium in 2021, while Washington won 31-24 at Los Angeles in 2018. This was early during Kelly's tenure when the Bruins were surrendering over 34 points per game to opponents while averaging under 25 points per game on offense. The Bruins took care of business against Colorado on the road last week but had to rely on a walk-off field goal to beat South Alabama at home in Week 3. In comparison, the Huskies just discarded Stanford 40-22 after jumping out to a 30-7 lead in the third quarter.

This game could come down to the wire, but I believe Penix and the Huskies have enough firepower to outlast the Bruins. Since Kelly is 1-2 at home against the spread this season, give me Washington and the points at -2.5.

UCLA vs. WASHINGTON PICK

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Article Author

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Matt is an avid writer, editor, and researcher. He enjoys analyzing the game within the game which is fantasy sports and sports betting. Music is another constant in his daily life. Matt loves spending time with his wife and three pets. He likes to read, listen to podcasts, and is constantly motivated to create the most accurate and engaging content in the sports betting industry.

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