There are some electrifying passers in the Pac-12, and another one of them is going to be on display tonight in California. Josh Rosen and the UCLA Bruins will open their season by welcoming the Texas A&M Aggies to campus. Just like his rival, Sam Darnold, there is a lot riding on this season for Rosen. He couldn’t avoid the injury bug in 2016 and missed significant time on the field. It took away what could have been a big season for him and the Bruins, but all he could do is watch from the sidelines.
The only positive thing you can take from it is that it may have been a learning experience for him. He didn’t need much of a learning experience from the sideline when he came into college football, as he threw for 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. That number was expected to go up in his sophomore season, but it was cut short at 10 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
Rosen is back, and hopefully he can stay healthy for the Bruins and his wallet for that matter. He is going to get looked at from scouts and could go in the first-round with a nice season. If he doesn’t look the part, he’s going to slip without a doubt. Scouts have been zeroing in on him since he entered college and this is the biggest year of his career thus far. He gets a pretty good matchup to start the season against A&M.
While Rosen is back, the Aggies will be get a brand new quarterback starting on Sunday. Trevor Knight, who had a considerably good career at Oklahoma and then Texas A&M went on to the NFL. Well, he tried out for the NFL, and just got cut by the Arizona Cardinals. He didn’t have the best of a preseason, as the Cardinals recently cut him after he completed just 2 passes on 12 attempts, including an interception.
Next in line at quarterback for the Aggies will be Nick Starkel. Starkel is a redshirt freshman who originally committed to Oklahoma State, but opted to go to Texas A&M instead. He won’t be the only option, though, as we expect him to be on a short leash with others behind him ready to get a shot. Starkel has yet to throw a pass in a college football game.
Both Jim Mora and Kevin Sumlin are on the hot seat. They’re expected to do something, but the odds are stacked against both, in my opinion. They’ll be good, but not good enough to compete in their conferences. Head below for our free Texas A&M vs. UCLA pick.
Texas A&M Aggies vs. UCLA Bruins Betting Odds:
Texas A&M +4.5(-115)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Texas A&M vs. UCLA Pick:
If Kevin Sumlin can be credited for anything it’s improving the defense in Aggie Land. They used to be a paper-thin unit that watched teams walk up and down on them. Johnny Manziel saved them on more than a few occasions. The defense produced a first overall selection in the NFL a year ago, and they should continue to churn out talent this year. In particular, the Aggies are going to be a load to handle in the middle of the defensive line. You are going to hear the names of Kingsley Keke and Zaycoven Henderson often this season. They should prove to be a load to handle for UCLA in this one.
Fixing the offensive line has been a priority for Mora. It doesn’t matter how good Rosen is, if the line can’t protect him it’s lights out. UCLA finished 4-8 last season due in large part to their anemic offense. The Bruins completely rehauled their coaching staff, including a new offensive coordinator that wants to take advantage of the talented group of running backs they have. Expect UCLA to look to run this season, getting Rosen in situations where he can pray on linebackers and safeties creeping up.
UCLA made up for their issues on offense last season with a better than anticipated defense. However, there is talent that was on the way out and needs to be replaced. Linebacker Kenny Young will be the leader of the Bruin defense in 2017. They will need to contend with a couple of big playmakers in the A&M offense. Christian Kirk at receiver and running back Trayveon Williams will prove to be an effective 1-2 punch in the offense.
I don’t think if they’re going to be enough at the Rose Bowl, though. People are going to look at the 4-8 of UCLA a year ago and then look at Texas A&M getting 4.5 points and think wow, can’t ignore that. However, I think Rosen is going to be the difference maker, going against a quarterback whose first snap is going to be in the Rose Bowl. UCLA takes this by around a touchdown in what should be an entertaining game on Sunday night.
PICK: UCLA -4.5 (-105)