UCLA has started the season 0-3 for the first time since 1971 following their 38-14 loss to Fresno State on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins football program took another hit earlier this week, as backup quarterback Devon Modster announced that he will be transferring. Modster started UCLA’s final two games in 2017 following Josh Rosen’s injury and competed for the starting job this spring, but Kelly elected to go with Michigan graduate transfer Wilton Speight in the opener and then the true freshman after Speight suffered an injury.
Kelly facing criticism after slow start
Head coach Chip Kelly has taken plenty of criticism for the team’s winless start, including from the father of his true freshman starting quarterback — Darian Thompson-Robinson. Michael Robinson responded to two tweets from Bruin Report Online about his son’s performance in the loss, putting the blame on “lousy coaching and play calling”, while calling Kelly’s success at Oregon “was simply a fluke”. Thompson-Robinson was ESPN’s No. 2 dual-threat quarterback and the No. 34 overall player in the 2018 recruiting class. He’s thrown for 522 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions through the first three games of the season, but is coming off of a lackluster performance against Fresno State in which he completed just 41.7 percent of his passes, while throwing two interceptions to just one touchdown on the night. Freshman running back Kazmeir Allen leads the team in rushing with 161 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown – good for an average of 7.7 yards per rush. Meanwhile, junior wide receiver Theo Howard tops the team with 11 receptions for 185 yards and a touchdown.
VIDEO: Chip Kelly addresses the media for the final time before Friday's game against Colorado, discussing Zach Sweeney's medical retirement and more… https://t.co/xMOU1tj9JC
— Bruin Report Online (@BruinReport) September 25, 2018
The Bruins have allowed more than 400 yards per game of total offense this season, while averaging just 320 yards per game on the offensive side of the ball. Part of the problem for UCLA has been that the coaching change has spurred several blue-chip recruits to transfer. 13 of the team’s 41 Blue Chip recruits have since the 2014 season decided to leave the program after Jim Mora was replaced with Kelly, which is not a recipe for winning football games at the collegiate level.
Buffaloes just outside of AP Top-25
Colorado enters the PAC-12 Conference season with an undefeated 3-0 record and they received votes to enter the AP Top-25 Rankings for the second consecutive week. The Buffaloes are currently on the outside looking in at the AP Rankings, sitting in 26th place with 83 votes and they could possibly sneak into the Top-25 with a win on Friday night. The Buffaloes enter this game averaging 41 points per contest after beating up on New Hampshire 45-14 last week. The Buffaloes dominated at the point of attack, rushing for 311 yards on the night, while limiting New Hampshire to just 42 yards on 31 rushing attempts. The defense pitched a first half shutout and forced three turnovers on the night, while Travon McMillian ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries to help lead the Buffs to victory.
Colorado’s offense is led by junior quarterback Steven Montez, who threw for under 300 yards for the first time last week against New Hampshire. He finished the game 14 of 19 for 166 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Montez has thrown for 855 yards, eight touchdowns and two picks so far this year, proving that he has the tools to be among the best quarterbacks in the PAC 12 in his second full season as a starter.
- Buffaloes are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.
- Buffaloes are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game.
- Bruins are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 conference games.
- Bruins are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 road games.
- Bruins are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
These two programs appear to be headed in opposite directions at the moment and it appears that the Chip Kelly era is going to get off to a slow start in Westwood. The Bruins lost a lot of talent over the summer and it has really showed on the defensive end, where they are allowing more than 174 rush yards per game through their first three contests. Meanwhile, Colorado already has three running backs with over 100 yards rushing this season and they average over 200 yards per game on the ground. Montez has also been excellent for the Buffs, throwing for 855 yards, eight touchdowns and two inceptions so far this year. Take Colorado to cover the spread at home in this early season PAC 12 showdown on Friday night.
Prediction: Pick: Colorado Buffaloes -11
Full-Game Total Pick
UCLA is averaging just 17.3 points per game this season, while allowing 37.7 points per contest heading into this game. They have yet to score more than 21 points in a game this season and it is hard to see them getting the ball going against an underrated Colorado team. The Buffaloes may not be ranked, but they have good quarterback play and enough weapons to put points on the board in a hurry. Look for the Buffaloes to break off several big plays, especially on the ground, where UCLA has struggled to contain opposing running backs. Take this game to go over the projected total in Colorado on Friday night.
Prediction: Over 58
Full-Game Prop Bet
UCLA is fresh off of allowing 38 points at home to Fresno State and they’ve given up at least 26 points in every game this season. Chip Kelly’s teams never been known for playing good defense and the Bruins lost a lot of talent on that side of the ball when they announced that Kelly would be hired. If Colorado gets their ground game going early, the Buffs could reach this number by the third quarter. Take Colorado to go over 34.5 points in this game on Friday night.
Prediction: Team Total – Colorado Over 34.5
Half-Time Side Pick
Colorado is favored by less than a touchdown in the first half and they have a major advantage behind center, so you have to like their chances of covering the number in this spot. Montez threw for 234 yards and a TD versus UCLA last year, adding 108 rushing yards in a 27-23 loss to the Josh Rosen-led Bruins. I expect him to have an even better game against this lackluster Bruins’ squad and the Buffaloes were able to lean on their ground game last week. Running backs Travon McMillian and Beau Bisharat are averaging 8.8 and 7.2 yards per carry respectively. If the Buffs can move the ball on the ground, this game could turn into a route early.
Prediction: Colorado Buffaloes -5.5
Half-Time Total Bet
UCLA is allowing 37.7 points per game and nearly 175 yards rushing per game. On the other hand, Colorado is averaging 204 yards rushing per game and Montez had a solid game against the Bruins last season, so I expect points to fly on the board early and often here. Colorado allowed 28 points to Nebraska in its only non-cupcake game of the year, so take the over on the first half total in this game on Friday night.
Prediction: Over 29.5
Half-Time Prop Prediction
This just seems like a small number to cover given the way that the Bruins have played so far this season. UCLA’s only other road game this season came at Oklahoma in a game that they lost by 28 points. Take Colorado to go over 18.5 points in the first half of this PAC 12 battle at home versus UCLA.
Prediction: Team Total – Colorado Over 18.5