The opening weekend of the 2015 college football season features an intriguing ACC-PAC-12 matchup with the Virginia Cavaliers traveling to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA to take on the 13th ranked UCLA Bruins led by head coach Jim Mora Jr. at 3:30 PM EST. The Cavaliers gave the then 7th ranked Bruins a scare in last season’s opening game, but UCLA hung on for a 28-20 win in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers finished with a 5-7 record last season and missed out on a bowl game. UCLA finished with a 10-3 record last season, capped by a 40-35 win over then 11th ranked Kansas St. in the Alamo Bowl.
Last season the Cavaliers ranked 87th of of 125 teams, averaging 374.2 yards per game, 5.08 yards per play, running an average of 74 plays per game. QB Matt Johns, who threw for two TDs against UCLA in relief last season has won the starting job and will be under center against the Bruins this Saturday afternoon. The Cavalier defense sacked the mobile Brett Hundley 5 times in last season’s meeting with the Bruins, they will need similar pressure against UCLA’s untested freshman QB in this game in order to have a chance to register the upset.
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During the 2014 season with QB Brett Hundley directing the attack, UCLA ranked 22nd, averaging 467.8 yards per game, 6.13 yards per play, and ran 76 plays per game. This season they will have true freshman Josh Rosen, a five star recruit, under center and he will be making his first collegiate appearance Saturday. The young signal caller will be able to rely on dynamic running back Paul Perkins, who ran for 1,575 yards and 9 TDs last season. UCLA’s defense will now be led by veteran coordinator Tom Bradley, who should bring some new looks and more pressure than we are used to seeing from UCLA.
UCLA vs. Virginia Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Virginia Cavaliers +19.5
@UCLA Bruins -19.5
Over 52.5 (-110)
Under 52.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
UCLA vs. Virginia Pick:
UCLA is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games in September. UVA is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games, 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 games on grass and 9-4-1 ATS in their last 4 games overall. The under is 6-1 in UVA’s last 7 games overall and 6-1 in their last 7 games on grass. The under is 4-1-1 in UCLA’s last 6 home games.
The trends favor a low-scoring affair, and the matchups do as well as Virginia is not a powerhouse offensively, and the Bruins will be breaking in a true freshman QB. Looks for UCLA to protect the young signal caller from pressure both perceived and dialed up by the UVA defense by establishing the run with Perkins and limiting the number of chances Rosen has to make mistakes.
Virginia will not blow anyone away with their offensive firepower, and UCLA needed three defensive touchdowns to win last season’s meeting even with an experienced and dynamic quarterback. It is hard to expect them to be overly productive with a freshman starting. The Bruins will have to lean on their defense and running game early in the season, and that favors taking the UNDER here.