2013-14 UCLA Bruins Predictions and College Football Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 7/19/2013
I have a friend who has long been an obsessive UCLA fan. Over the years I have lost the will to give him a hard time about the continued, painful struggles of his team. It’s kind of like pushing a sick kid to the ground and then kicking him — it’s just not fun. Last year came as more of a relief for me than for him, then. As the team showed decided competence under a new regime, the opportunity to make fun of him appears to be just around the corner. Thankfully. I will cheering even more enthusiastically than he will that the bright days for this program are really on their way, and aren’t just a mirage. This team still isn’t ready to be a real national contender, but can Jim Mora Jr. show us that they are on their way?
Consistency has to be the goal this year. The team was very good at points last year, but they didn’t sustain it. They started strong through four games, looked lousy in the next three, and then got it back together for the last six games, though the results didn’t match the efforts in the last three games. In horse racing, a horse that loses ground and then gains it back is one to watch in his next race. The fact that UCLA could have let their season fall apart but didn’t is to their credit.
Brett Hundley is a very good quarterback — or at least he has the potential to be. Like so many young dual-threat quarterbacks, though, he takes too long to pass, and he gets sacked far too much. He needs to show that he has matured and evolved and that he can recognize a blitz and deal with it. He should be helped in that effort by an improved offensive line. The unit was incredibly young last year, so maturity should lead to improved results. They also have a very impressive crop of new recruits to bolster the ranks. If experience doesn’t come through, then perhaps depth can.
The biggest fear on this team is their secondary. Last year the unit was just plain terrible — the biggest liability the team had by a wide margin. They are recruiting well, but there is no reason to believe right now that unit is going to make a significant step forward. On top of that, the team has lost the extremely talented punter Jeff Locke, so the safety cushion of strong field position to start defensive drives isn’t there to rely on. The second game of the year against Nebraska will be a very good indicator of what the defense will be capable of, and therefore what the team can do.
UCLA Schedule Analysis
The Bruins seem, finally, to be moving in the right direction. They are going to have to prove that last season’s progress was no fluke, though, because this is far from an easy schedule.
Nonconference play is going to be solid, with home games against Nevada and New Mexico State surrounding a trip to Nebraska. There are certainly teams that play easier schedules. UCLA then gets a bit of a break by opening the conference season against lightweights Utah and Cal. But then things get serious. Colorado is the only easy remaining game over the last seven weeks. They have four brutal road games — Stanford, Oregon, Arizona and USC. They also play Washington and Arizona State at home. This is the kind of schedule in which UCLA could play good football and still wind up with an underwhelming record.
2013-14 UCLA Betting Odds and Trends
The oddsmakers and the public are not buying into this team in huge numbers yet — they are +6000 to win the National Championship. They are in a three-way tie as the second choice to win the Pac-12 South at +300 and are the sixth choice at +800 to win the Pac-12. QB Brett Hundley is a moderate longshot to win the Heisman at +3000. They open their season at home against Nevada, and are favored by 14.5 points in that contest. (All odds are from BetOnline) The Bruins were 8-5 ATS last season. They went “over” the total nine times in 13 tries.
2013-14 UCLA Bruins Predictions and College Football Picks
The Bruins are moving in the right direction — if they were a stock I would buy a lot of them. This is going to be a tough year, though. The young talent is going to take some time to gel. Star running back Johnathan Franklin is gone. The defense is a concern. The road schedule is absolutely brutal. The team was 9-5 last year. If they could match that record, or come within a win of it, then the season would be a success. The trick here will be to look for progress and improvement no matter what the results are. In other words, watch UCLA this year with an eye towards strong value next year.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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