This is not what Chip Kelly had in mind when he returned to coaching college football. The UCLA Bruins are off to an 0-2 start and have not looked good in losses to the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Oklahoma Sooners. To be fair to the Bruins, Cincinnati may be one of the best Group of Five teams in the country, while Oklahoma may be the best team in the country, but that comes as little solace to UCLA fans. That’s especially true considering they must now face another very good team when the Fresno State Bulldogs come to town in Week 3.
Watch this Week 3 matchup live on Saturday, September 15, 2018, at 10:30 p.m. ET at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
College Football Odds at BookMaker.eu
Fresno State +2.5
Although this isn’t considered a premier game, there is plenty of intrigue surrounding these two teams, and that has led to some line movement. Initially, the oddsmakers opened this game as a pick ‘em on the CFB betting line, but money has come in on UCLA since that point. The Bruins are now up to 2.5-point favorites, and they may move to -3 as the week progresses.
The CFB betting total has been a mover too. Originally, this line came out at 54 points, but it has since moved down to 51.
The rebuilding era is underway at UCLA, and it looks like this season will be a wash for the Bruins. Chip Kelly initially went with Wilton Speight as his starting quarterback this season, but after Speight struggled to complete anything other than short passes in the first half against Cincinnati, he pulled the plug and went with freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
Thompson-Robinson had his share of issues against the Bearcats defense, but he had his moments where you could see his potential against Oklahoma. He completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 254 yards and a touchdown against the Sooners, and while those numbers were somewhat aided by garbage time, he played well for a freshman on the road in a hostile environment.
Kelly will continue to rebuild this team in other areas too. Jim Mora Jr. left the cupboard pretty bare, and nearly every position needs an overhaul. It’s very much a work-in-progress year for the Bruins.
Matchup to Watch
In a 21-14 loss to Minnesota last week, Fresno State was unable to get much going on the ground. The Bulldogs ground game was supposed to be strong with their five leading rushers from last year returning, and they tore up Idaho in the opener. However, they managed just 3.6 yards per carry against the Golden Gophers last week.
Those numbers weren’t affected by quarterback sacks either as Marcus McMaryion was not brought down behind the line of scrimmage all game long. That’s a bit of a worry coming into this one.
UCLA is running a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro. Azzinaro has been a Kelly disciple since coming to Oregon back in 2009, and he followed him through his two NFL stops as well. Like everything else, it will take time for him to get his guys in place, but this run defense has performed well all things considered. They are allowing 4.3 yards per carry through two games.
Free ATS Pick
This feels like a low-scoring slugfest that UCLA pulls out in the end. That’s why I’m going to take the under. I don’t have confidence in either one of these offenses, but we know Fresno State’s defense is very good, and UCLA’s defense has been better than expected. It’s unfortunate that the CFB betting odds have moved against the pick a bit, but under is a good play as long as the total sits in the 50s.
College Football Odds: UCLA 24, Fresno State 20
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