The Bowling Green Falcons (4-8, 4-8 ATS, 5-7 O/U) battle the UCLA Bruins (8-4, 8-4 ATS, 7-5 O/U) in the season opener on Saturday afternoon. The Falcons posted a 4-8 record last year and went 2-6 in MAC Play. The Bruins logged an 8-4 record and went 6-3 in Pac-12 action. There are no previous meetings between these combatants.
Bowling Green Eyes Rebound Season
The Bowling Green Falcons are seeking improvement after earning only two conference wins last season. There were a few big moments including a stunning road win against Minnesota early in the season. The squad is definitely expected to eclipse last year’s season win total of five. They were voted to finish 5th in the MAC East in the preseason poll.
The Falcons' offense returns almost all the main pieces from last season. The offense struggled to generate points but they have a fair amount of talent. QB Matt McDonald accumulated 2555 passing yards along with a 12:7 TD to INT ratio. The senior QB connected on 60% of his attempts.
Last season’s rushing leader Terion Steward is also back. The sophomore RB logged 412 rushing yards on a stellar average of 5.9 yards per carry. The Falcons return all leading receivers from 2021 including Tyrone Broden. The junior brought in 596 yards.
The Bowling Green defense was somewhat competitive last season but it depended on the opposing offense. They have a good linebacker in Darren Anders who accrued 124 total tackles. The pass defense was elite, ranking 11th in the FBS however, the rush defense was pegged 105th.
Bowling Green scored an average of only 21.4 points in 2021, pegging them 108th. The defense conceded an average of 30.7 points, positioning them 96th.
UCLA Enters Season with Lofty Expectations
The UCLA Bruins enjoyed a breakout season in 2021 and are primed for another big year. The squad won their final three games last year and signed coach Chip Kelly to an extension. The conference is challenging this season and the Bruins were selected to finish 4th in the Pac-12 preseason media poll.
UCLA has a stellar QB in Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The mobile QB collected 2409 passing yards accompanied by a 24:9 TD to INT ratio. The senior is just as dangerous on the ground, amassing 609 rushing yards in 2021. Last year’s rushing leader Zach Charbonnet is back and is considered one of the best RBs in the conference. The senior RB registered a whopping 1137 rushing yards on 5.6 yards per carry and should be among the rushing leaders in the FBS.
The offense lost the top 3 WRs from last year however former Duke WR Jake Bobo has joined the program. The senior WR has talent and finished with 794 receiving yards in 2021. The offense should be just as good, if not better than last year.
The Bruins' defense was definitely an issue at times last season and they brought in a new defensive coordinator to help improve the pass defense. They lost key pieces in the backfield but have young players ready to progress nicely. The pass defense was pegged 111th while the rush defense was effective, landing 29th.
UCLA scored an average of 37.5 points in 2021, ranking them 16th. The defense squandered an average of 26.8 points, placing them 75th in the FBS.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Bowling Green Falcons only won four games in 20221 due to a poor offense and are not expected to be much better this season. Meanwhile, the UCLA Bruins are one of the top squads in the PAC 12 and return many key pieces from an offensive unit that was one of the best in the FBS.
Furthermore, the Falcons are going to be exploited on the ground. They squandered an average of 188 rushing yards per game last year, pegging them 105th, and the Bruins have a potent running game that averaged a remarkable 220 rushing yards per game last year. QB Thompson-Robinson is a threat on the ground and they return Zach Charbonnet who rushed for 1137 yards in 2021. This spread is more than reasonable and I am surprised it's not a bit higher.
Full-Game Total Pick
I am opting for the over in this one. Bowling Green will have trouble scoring but should contribute to this total a bit considering they return many offensive starters who now have more experience. This will be a blowout score and they will have an opportunity to add some points late in the game. QB Matt McDonald connected on 60% of his pass attempts last year.
In addition, UCLA eclipsed 40 points in their final three games of 2021 against conference foes and should feast on a defense that ranked 96th last year in total points allowed. The over is also a convincing 5-1 in their last six home games.