There are a trio of games on the docket prior to the massive Saturday slate of College Football action. Perhaps the most intriguing of the trio is the one involving a pair of Pac 12 rivals, which kicks off at 9 PM EST on FS1.
The UCLA Trojans and Colorado Buffaloes look to be two teams heading in opposite directions, but we wouldn’t exactly label it a mismatch. A projected total of 60.5 points indicates the potential for some fireworks on the scoreboard.
Let’s take a look at this matchup in closer detail.
UCLA @ Colorado, 9 PM EST, Friday, Sept. 28, FS1
- UCLA +9.5 (-115)
- Colorado -9.5 (-105)
- UCLA +290
- Colorado -350
- Over 5 (+105)
- Under 5 (-125)
UCLA vs. Colorado pick:
The UCLA Bruins enter this game with a mark of 0-3, and the margin of defeat has grown larger with each successive defeat. All told, the Bruins have been outscored by a margin of 113-52. The team’s most recent defeat came at the hands of the visiting Fresno State Bulldogs by a score of 38-14.
Redshirt senior QB Wilton Speight opened the season as the starter, but he went down to injury in the club’s opening week loss to Cincinnati. True freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson took over from that point, and he hasn’t exactly been lighting it up. To date, he has completed 54.7 percent of his passes for 522 yards, two scores, and two picks.
There is no clarity on who will have the reins once Speight is ready to return. In the backfield, freshman Kazmeir Allen leads the way with 161 yards, while senior Bolu Olorunfunmi has found the end zone four times.
Junior wideouts Theo Howard and Caleb Wilson have been the top options in the passing game, with lines of 11/185/1 and 8/128/0 respectively. Defensively, the Bruins are giving up an average of 228.7 passing yards and 174.3 rushing yards per game. The defense has also compiled five sacks and four turnovers in total through three games.
The season has gotten off to a vastly different start for the Colorado Buffaloes, who enter this game with a perfect mark of 3-0. Two of the victories were quite convincing with margins of victory of 30+ points, while the team’s stirring come from behind victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Week 2 had a final score of 33-28.
Junior QB Steven Montez has been on fire to start the season. He’s completed 73.4 percent of his passes so far for 855 yards, eight touchdowns, and two interceptions. Senior Travon McMillian has been the man in the backfield with an impressive line of 33/290/3 through three games.
Montez has a solid group of pass catchers at his disposal, but sophomore Laviska Shenault Jr. has been playing at a whole different level. He’s snagged 26 balls for 455 yards and three scores so far, with his most impressive effort coming in Week 1 against the Colorado State Rams: 11/211/1.
Defensively, the Buffaloes are giving up 215 passing yards and 158 rushing yards per game. The defense has accumulated 10 sacks and seven turnovers so far, and opponents are only scoring an average of 18.3 points per game.
Historically, these two squads have met a total of 13 times. UCLA has an overall edge of 10-3. Dating back to 2011, these schools have met every year, with UCLA winning six of seven over that span. Last year, the Bruins were 27-23 home victors in a game in which they were favored by 7.5 points.
That game had a high projected total of 66 points, but the final score fell well short of that. Over the past seven meetings, the Under has been the correct call four times. This year’s projected total of 60.5 points is in the ballpark of where it was for the most recent meetings between the schools.
Based on the start to the season for both squads, one would assume that the future outlook for the remainder of the season would reflect those differences. That assumption would be incorrect. According to oddsmakers, the Bruins are projected for five wins, while the Buffaloes have a benchmark of 5.5 games.
Even if we look at the odds to take down the Pac 12, the teams are pretty close. Colorado currently has odds of 20/1, while UCLA checks in at 30/1. Both are well behind the clear favorite to win the division, the Washington Huskies, who currently have odds of -160. The Stanford Cardinal are the next choice at 3/1.
Heading into the season, the general expectation was that new UCLA head coach Chip Kelly would need some time to implement his system. That said, it wasn’t assumed that such a rough start would be in the cards. The Bruins are not only winless, but they have fallen victim to back-to-back losses by margins of 20+ points.
As for Colorado, the Buffaloes faithful have to be pleased with the start they have seen. Head coach Mike McIntyre has been at the helm for the past six seasons. He guided the club to the Pac 12 Championship game with a regular season mark of 10-2 back in 2016. A perfect start to the season has bolstered enthusiasm, but oddsmakers seem to be less than convinced.
Based solely on what we have seen from both squads so far this year, it’s tough to see how the Bruins can hit the road and take down a squad that’s playing as well as the Buffaloes have been. That gives us confidence in Colorado to win outright, so the question moves to whether or not they can cover the 9.5-point spread.
At the end of the day, UCLA is just struggling too much. Kelly may find some success down the road, but it’s shaping up to be a rough 2018 season for the Bruins faithful. We’ll take Colorado to win and cover.