2019 UCLA Bruins College Football Odds and Expert Betting Picks
2018 Record: 3-9
2019 Las Vegas Season Win Total: 6.5
2019 Season Win Total Picks NCAA Football: 'Under'
Remember when Bobby Petrino was considered an offensive genius? Then he completely and totally flamed out in the NFL, flopped back into college football, and never had anywhere near the level of success that he had originally? I feel like Chip Kelly is wandering down that same path.
The bloom is off the rose with Kelly. His offense was once innovative. Now it is kind of standard issue in the world of college football. He is attempting to repair his reputation while rebuilding a meandering UCLA program. Yet if last year's 3-9 mess is any indication, Kelly may be looking for his next job sooner rather than later.
I will say that UCLA did show progress and improvement in Kelly's first season at the helm. He is attempting a major overhaul, taking players recruited for a pro style offense and trying to fit them into his spread attack. That is going to take time. And last November the Bruins started to show some signs of clicking, taking close losses at Arizona State and versus Stanford while pulling an upset over USC.
Now the question is whether or not Kelly and the Bruins can build on that.
The Bruins have 19 returning starters this season. That includes 10 on offense. They finished just No. 98 nationally in scoring last season. But a year of familiarity in Kelly's system should help rectify that.
UCLA has four of its top five rushers and four of five offensive linemen back. Sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was up and down in his rookie season. But if he can make some strides - and having four of his top five receivers back should help - then that would go a long way in boosting this team's offensive output.
This team's early season schedule is absolutely brutal. They open at Cincinnati, the defending AAC champions. The next two weeks they take on San Diego State and defending Big 12 Champion Oklahoma. The Bruins then open Pac-12 play with road games at Washington State and Arizona.
If UCLA were to start 1-4, it wouldn't be shocking in the least.
Road games at Stanford, Utah and USC are no small tasks either.
In spite of their difficult slate, I think that Kelly is going to get this team back to a bowl game. However, I think they will need a November victory to lock up that sixth win to make them postseason eligible. UCLA is going to be vastly improved and much more competitive, especially against the top teams in the Pac-12. But they don't have enough high-end talent or experience to be a real factor in the league race.
UCLA has only six senior starters. That means they should bring back somewhere around 14-16 starters next season. I think that they will show slight improvement this year, benefit from the extra month of bowl game practices, and then head into next season as a Pac-12 sleeper. Play 'under'.
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