- An 0-3 start to the season has Chip Kelly's UCLA team as a double-digit underdog at Colorado on Friday night. Should we expect the Bruins to rebound after their bye week?
UCLA Bruins vs. Colorado Buffaloes (-11)
Fri. 9/28, 9:00 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on UCLA-Colorado:
1. Dating back to 2011, UCLA has dominated its head-to-head series against Colorado. The Bruins are 6-1 straight up in that span, and two of those wins came in Boulder—they were 2-1 against the spread in three trips to Colorado. But if you look even further into the matchup, you also have to consider Bruins coach Chip Kelly’s Pac-12 history. Kelly was the head coach at Oregon from 2009 to 2012 and in two meetings with Colorado, his Ducks teams owned the Buffaloes. Oregon faced Colorado in both 2011 and 2012, and the Ducks won those games by a combined score of 115-16, easily covering the spread in both contests. The talent obviously isn’t the same for Kelly’s UCLA team, but his experience in games like these will help. Colorado also happens to be a lousy 1-5-1 against the spread in its last seven home games.
2. With the Bruins getting a week off before this game, freshman QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson has had a little more time to completely dive into Kelly’s complicated offense. Thompson-Robinson has a lot of work to do as a passer—he has completed just 41 of 75 passes for 522 yards with two touchdowns and two picks this season—but he has the running ability to open things up for UCLA. In a blowout loss to Fresno State two weeks ago, the freshman rushed for 49 yards on eight attempts. He’ll be counted on to continue to make plays with his legs in this one. If he can find some room early on against Colorado, then he’ll find it a lot easier to throw the ball the rest of the way. It will also help if running back Bolu Olorunfunmi can get going here. The senior leads the team in carries with 28, but he is averaging just 2.7 yards per run. He does have four rushing touchdowns on the season, but the Bruins need him to be more effective with his touches. It wouldn’t be surprising if he breaks out a bit this week, as Colorado is allowing 158.0 rushing yards per game to opponents.
3. There’s no denying that UCLA’s defense has been awful this season. While the Bruins have allowed only 228.7 yards per game and four touchdowns through the air, the team has been gashed on the ground thus far. UCLA has allowed 174.3 rushing yards per game this season (84th in FBS) and 11 rushing touchdowns (122nd)—which is extra embarrassing considering they’ve played only three games thus far. One would have to imagine that the defense spent almost the entirety of its two weeks off working on stopping the run. It’s hard to envision UCLA winning this game outright, but this is just too many points against a hungry team coming off of a bye—especially with a coach as good as Kelly.
Pick: UCLA +11
Confidence level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)