Can UCLA bounce back this season? 8/9/17

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Updated: August 10, 2017

UCLA Win-Total Prediction

College Football Predictions: Can UCLA bounce back this season? 8/10/17

Are the UCLA Bruins shaping up to have a big 2017 season? Here’s our thoughts on their regular-season win total.

According to oddsmakers at BetDSI, UCLA is listed with 80/1 odds to win the College Football Playoffs this season. The Bruins are also listed with 17/2 odds to win the Pac-12 in 2017. When it comes to the over/under for regular-season wins, UCLA is listed at 7.5. The over carries a line of +100, while the under has a money line of -130.

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Jim Mora is entering his sixth season as head coach of the Bruins. After a good first three years, posting a 9-win season and two 10-win seasons, UCLA has taken steps back the last two years. They fell to 8-5 in 2015 and then were a troubling 4-8 in 2016. It was their worst showing since 2010.

UCLA had one of the worst offenses in the nation last season, averaging just 24.9 points and 380 yards per game. Their run game produced just 84.3 yards per contest. The offense will have junior quarterback Josh Rosen back under center. He missed the second half of 2016 due to an injury, but has thrown for over 5,500 yards in his career and has 33 touchdowns. He is listed with 28/1 odds to win the Heisman this season and is a top prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft. Rosen will also have his two leading receivers back from last season. In the backfield, UCLA returns their top five rushers from a year ago. Problem is, none of them were very productive. Soso Jamabo was the leading rusher with just 321 yards on 82 carries. The ground game will have to improve this season. If Rosen can stay healthy, that should certainly open up some running lanes.

Defensively, UCLA wasn’t too bad last season. The Bruins held opponents to 27.5 points and 382 yards per game. Their pass defense was a strength, giving up only 210.5 yards per game through the air. Adarius Pickett is the top-returning defensive back this year. He had 42 tackles with three interceptions in 2016. UCLA will have to replace some big production on the defense. Takkarist McKinley had 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks last season before moving on to the NFL. Jayon Brown was the leading tackler with 119 and also had three interceptions. The Bruins are hoping defensive lineman Jacob Tuioti-Mariner can step up his production. He had five tackles for loss and three sacks in 2016. He will need to step up to a bigger role in 2017.

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UCLA faces a stiff test right away in Texas A&M at home to open the season. The Bruins also face Hawaii and Memphis in other non-conference games. Pac-12 play has UCLA hosting Colorado, Oregon, Arizona State and Cal. The Bruins will travel to Stanford, Arizona, Washington, Utah and USC. That string of road games is going to be very tough. Winning any would be big for UCLA right now. Texas A&M won’t be easy at home either and Memphis is no slouch. If Rosen is healthy, you would think UCLA would be a pretty good team. However, will his head be thinking about the future and the NFL if he suffers even the slightest setback or new injury? The combo of the schedule and uncertainty about the offense leaves me thinking it could be another long season for UCLA.

2017 WIN TOTAL PREDICTION: UCLA UNDER 7.5 (-130)

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