Bowling Green vs. UCLA Football Picks, Odds, Predictions: Rout at Rose Bowl in Week 1?

Bowling Green vs. UCLA Football Picks, Odds, Predictions: Rout at Rose Bowl in Week 1? article feature image

Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images. Pictured: Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

  • Dorian Thompson-Robinson and UCLA take on Bowling Green at Rose Bowl on Saturday to continue college football Week 1.
  • Will Bowling Green's offense be able to score enough to cover a 23.5-point spread?
  • Cody Goggin breaks it all down and provides his best bet.

Bowling Green vs. UCLA Odds

Saturday, Sept. 3
2:30 p.m. ET
Pac-12 Network
Bowling Green Odds
-112o / -108u
-112o / -108u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Bowling Green travels to the Rose Bowl on Saturday to begin its season against Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins.

Kelly returns for a fifth season leading the UCLA Bruins as both head coach and offensive coordinator. In his first four seasons with the Bruins, UCLA is 18-25, but the Bruins are coming off of their first winning season under Kelly in 2021 at 8-4.

Scot Loeffler will begin his fourth year at the helm for Bowling Green. Last season, the Falcons went 4-8 as Loeffler is 7-22 overall here. With 18 returning starters, this should be the best team he has had at Bowling Green yet.

Will Bowling Green’s offense have enough firepower to hang around with UCLA's dangerous rushing attack?

Bowling Green Falcons

McDonald Returns to Lead the Falcons' Offense

Luckily for this UCLA defense, Bowling Green’s offense didn't exactly light up the scoreboard last season. The Falcons ranked 119th in Offensive Success Rate a season ago, but they return nine starters and have the most returning offensive stats in the country, per Phil Steele.

Quarterback Matt McDonald will be the main player to watch on this offense. He threw for 2,555 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season.

This should be an improved offense from a season ago because of a wealth of experience, but I wouldn’t expect it to be a big threat in this matchup against a more talented UCLA squad.

Falcons' Defense Needs to Stop the Run

Bowling Green is almost a polar opposite team from UCLA, so this clash of styles should be interesting.

In 2021, Bowling Green was led primarily by its defense, which ranked 78th in Success Rate. The Falcons thrived in the air — as they ranked 19th against the pass — but they struggled to stop the run, as they finished 110th in FBS in Rushing Success Rate.

Nine starters return to this unit as well, which should give Bowling Green one of the best defensive lines in the MAC. If the defense is not better against the run, the Falcons will be no match for the Bruins.

UCLA Bruins

DTR, Charbonnet Headline Explosive Bruins Offense

Dorian Thompson-Robinson has been QB1 for Kelly’s entire UCLA tenure. Last season, he passed for 2,409 yards with 21 touchdowns to just six interceptions. He led an effective offense, as the Bruins ranked 35th in the nation in Passing Success Rate.

While he has improved as a passer, UCLA's offensive strength is the running game. In 2021, UCLA had one of the most potent rushing attacks in the country, ranking 19th in Success Rate and 22nd in Explosiveness.

The Bruins ranked 20th in the country in Rush Rate, as they ran the ball on 58% of their offensive plays.

Thompson-Robinson ran for 706 yards and nine touchdowns, but the Bruins also have the threat of Zach Charbonnet, who ran for 1,153 yards and 13 TDs.

Charbonnet was the fourth-highest graded RB in the country last year, per PFF. He's also a former four-star recruit who began his career at Michigan but has found his place as the lead back at UCLA.

With both DTR and Charbonnet returning, this Bruins' offense should have success like last season. Unfortunately, they do lose their top-three receivers from last year — including Kyle Philips and Greg Dulcich, who were selected in the NFL Draft.

They also lose three of their starting offensive linemen, but with 84 starts between the returning linemen, there will still be enough experience and talent on this unit to remain competent.

Lots of Turnover for Bruins' Defense

Defensively, the Bruins struggled mightily last season. They were 86th in Defensive Success Rate, with most of their struggles coming against the run. They ranked 111th in Success Rate against the run, but a more respectable 58th against pass plays.

There will be a lot of turnover on this side of the ball, which may not be the worst thing. The Bruins will lose 11 of their top 15 tacklers from 2021, but they bring in experienced transfers from North Texas, Hawaii and Wyoming to plug those holes.

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Bowling Green vs. UCLA Betting Pick

At the end of the day, Bowling Green won't be good enough to hang with UCLA. While UCLA’s defense is not its strength, I wouldn’t trust Bowling Green’s offense to score enough points to have a fighting chance.

The Falcons’ defense is their better unit, but their main deficiency last year — stopping the run — is also the Bruins' strength.

Expect UCLA to take advantage of this in a rout at the Rose Bowl.

Pick: UCLA -23 (Play to -24.5)

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