Chip Kelly has the stability edge heading into the UCLA at Colorado pick. The Bruins head coach returns his starting QB and four top skill position players against a Buffalos team that is turning to a former Safety under center. CU also has their third head coach in as many seasons, a tough spot to perform in with a cancelled offseason and no non-conference games.
63% of the public likes the Bruins in this spot, despite going on the road to Boulder. There’s just too many unknowns for Colorado, who did at least retain both of their coordinators after Mel Tucker left to go coach Michigan State. UCLA is a -6 point favorite Saturday night, with a betting total of 56.5.
Big (Albeit Short) Season for the Bruins?
UCLA was just 4-5 a season ago, finishing in 3rd place in the Pac-12 South behind Utah and USC and a game ahead of 3-6 Colorado. The Bruins did win this matchup 31-14 last year at home as -6.5 favorites, making it five straight wins for the home team in the series.
The Bruins have a big advantage over the Buffalos in the UCLA at Colorado pick in terms of having both the same QB and head coach as a season ago. Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for 226 yards and 2 TD last year to lead the Bruins win over CU, and he’ll get to face a Colorado defense starting two underclassmen in the secondary.
Thompson-Robinson had a solid year with 2700+ yards and 21 TDs, but he also threw 12 picks and had 7 fumbles. An additional year of experience should help the Junior, as should the return of top pass catcher Kyle Phillips and Sr. Demetric Felton stepping into the departed Joshua Kelly (Chargers) role.
Colorado a Huge Unknown
There are some non-ideal things going on for Colorado in this matchup, but some things to be optimistic about as well. One positive aspect of Colorado’s offseason coaching change is that the new man in charge Karl Dorrell is very familiar with UCLA after spending 2003-2007 at the helm in UCLA.
What’s not great for Colorado ahead of Saturday night’s game is that they have to break in a new QB without the benefit of a full preseason. Steven Montez was a constant for Colorado playing in 45 games over the last four years, but he’s graduated and redshirt senior Sam Noyer gets the reins. Noyer hasn’t thrown a pass since 2018, and was actually moved to safety last season.
Colorado also heads into the season opener without former 1,000 yard receiver Laviska Shenault, Jr. who is off to the NFL. The good news is that UCLA had the 3rd worst defense in the Pac-12 a season ago, giving up 456.3 yards/game. Once again more bad news is that RB Alex Fontenot, who had 874 rushing yards last season, is out with an undisclosed injury.
Free UCLA at Colorado Pick
The Buffalos have to work out all their offseason issues of a new coach and a QB without the benefit of an offseason or a couple non-conference tomato cans to beat up on. That’s bad news, especially against Chip Kelly, who knows he needs to start showing some returns as the UCLA rebuild enters year three.
Heading to play in the Colorado atmosphere without a ‘regular’ offseason is the X-factor working against the Bruins on Saturday night, but the Buffs have plenty more issues to work out on their end.
UCLA 35 – Colorado 27
Free Pick: UCLA -6