Thursday College Football Free Pick: UCLA -16.5
UCLA vs. Rice,
08/30/2012 19:30 EDT,
Score: 49 - 24
Point Spread: -16½/-105 UCLA
Thursday College Football Free Pick: UCLA -15
This may seem like a big number to lay on UCLA, especially considering the Bruins are just 8-27 on the road over the last six seasons. With that said, this is a new era at UCLA.
New head coach Jim Mora is the real deal. The Bruins didn't just get a great head coach. I'm really excited about the additions of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and defensive coordinator Lou Spanos. Mazzone spent the last two years at Arizona St. The Sun Devils were coming off back-to-back seasons where they averaged just under 23 ppg (22.8 & 22.3). In his two years at Arizona St, the offense put up 32.3 & 33.2 ppg. Spanos is a disciple of the great Pittsburgh Steelers defenses of the last two decades, having spent 15 seasons as an assistant there. He spent the last two years as the linebackers coach for the Washington Redskins, and I expect him to make some big improvements to the UCLA defense in his first year.
UCLA decided to go with red-shirt freshman Brett Hundley over returning starters Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut at quarterback. This should certainly tell you something about what Mora and Mazzone think of Hundley. The kid has all kinds of talent and they really like the athleticism he brings to the table. When a play doesn't go as planned, Hundley will be able to use his speed and ability to make something happen on his own.
They big key to this game is the lack of talent the Owls have coming back in 2012. With just 10 starters total, five on each side of the ball, this is clearly a rebuilding season for Rice. What really sticks out to me, is the fact that the Owls have just one starter back on both the offensive and defensive line. Look for UCLA to dominate the trenches, which in turn should allow them to completely dominate this game and cover the 15-point spread. The Bruins should be able to establish the run and Hundley figures to have all day to throw the football. I expect UCLA to score at will in this game, which is what you have to have in order to cover a spread this big. BET THE BRUINS!