UCLA Bruins Odds to win the Pac-12 with Expert Betting Predictions
I grew up where I still live - western Canada. College football isn't particularly big here. Not much outside of hockey is. I landed on my Michigan fandom early and randomly. At my first real job I met one of the few other college football fans in Calgary. We remain friends, bonded by that connection. The problem, though, is that the poor bugger landed on being a random UCLA fan as randomly as I landed on Michigan. And he is as loyal to his adopted team than I am. Poor bastard. For the 20+ years I have known him the Bruins have always been on the verge of a breakthrough. And they have always found a way to completely mess it up. So, excuse me if I can't get too enthusiastic for this year's storyline - after some changes and tweaks this could be a breakout year for this team as they take a step towards credibility. That won't happen, of course, but it could.
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2016 in a Nutshell
The Bruins started the season ranked 16th, but that really didn't last long. They lost in overtime at Texas A&M to open the season, and that was the last time they were ranked. They rebounded to beat UNLV, and then win at BYU, but that was the end of the happiness for the year. They predictably lost to Stanford, got a meaningless win against Arizona, and then lost four in a row, including to ranked teams Utah and Colorado. They got another meaningless home win against Oregon State but then got smoked by USC and then didn't even try in the finale at a horrible Cal team. It was an ugly 4-8 year - so very UCLA of them.
Key Additions and Departures
Josh Rosen is back for a third year at QB, and the hope has to be that he can finally cash in on his immense potential. He's not off to a good start, dominating offseason storylines with his claims that it is impossible to be both a student and an athlete. Perhaps the addition of Jedd Fisch as offensive coordinator can get him on track. Fisch worked wonders with Jake Rudock and Wilton Speight as passing game coordinator at Michigan most recently, so he has a strong touch with quarterbacks. Fisch is the third OC in three years, so the team desperately needs some stability here - and Jim Mora will likely lose his job if he doesn't get it. The team is loaded with experienced receivers. They couldn't run last year at all, but they have all of their running backs and offensive linemen of note back and add a nice grad transfer on the line as well - Sunny Odogwu of Miami. Rosen was banged up last year, so if he can stay healthy and Fisch can find some competence on the ground then this should be a pretty solid offense.
On defense the story is different. The line faces massive changes, losing a first-rounder and a third-rounder to the NFL Draft. They also lose three linebackers who played significant time and four of the seven defensive backs who played real time last year. That's a lot to overcome. Things aren't dire, though. Jaelan Phillips, an end, was as elite as a recruit can be last year, and he is very promising. And there are plenty of other young four- and five-star recruits around. They all need to find their way, and coordinator Tom Bradley has a real juggling act on his hands, but if he can find a way the upside is strong. The upside for this defense is significant, but it is far from certain that they will realize it this year.
UCLA Bruins Schedule Analysis
They again open against Texas A&M, and they will be hoping for a better result this year. The rest of the season breaks into different groups. Three games seem like likely losses at this point - at Stanford, Washington, and USC. It's tough to dig that big of a hole in conference play. There are three games that they should win - at home against Hawaii, Arizona State and Cal. And then there are six games that are, to some extent or another, coin tosses. Aside from Texas A&M, those include at Memphis, Arizona and Utah, and at home against Colorado and Oregon. So three wins, plus six coin flips, puts the expectations at about six wins. And nothing between four wins and 10 would be a massive shock. This is a very tough team to predict.
2017-18 UCLA Bruins Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has UCLA at +10000 to win the national title, which puts them ahead of just six teams of the 36 that the book has odds listed for. They are the fourth choice to win the Pac-12 at +1000 but far behind USC at +110. They are the second choice to win the Pac-12 South, but it's not even close - they are at +500, and USC is favored at -300. The season win total sits at 6.5, with the "over" strongly favored at -180. I'm certainly not excited about betting at that price.
The team was as bad as you would expect to bet on last year - they were 4-8 ATS as well as straight up. They didn't cover the first four or the last two, so if you hit the right portion of the season they had a solid 4-2 ATS run. The team went "under" the total seven times and pushed once, so the under was typically the right play.
2017-18 UCLA Bruins Predictions and College Football Picks
I just can't be optimistic about the team. I expect them to play in a bowl, but I don't expect more than eight wins. And they will find ways to crush the souls of those who care about them - that's the surest bet there is about this team.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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