South Alabama vs. UCLA Odds, Picks: Why to Back Bruins to Win Big on Saturday

South Alabama vs. UCLA Odds, Picks: Why to Back Bruins to Win Big on Saturday article feature image

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

  • UCLA hosts South Alabama as part of college football's Week 3.
  • The Bruins are looking for their first 3-0 start since 2015.
  • Alex Hinton breaks down the matchup and offers up his top pick.

South Alabama vs. UCLA Odds

Saturday, Sept. 17
2 p.m. ET
Pac-12 Network
South Alabama Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

South Alabama is off to a 2-0 start this season with victories over Nicholls State and at Central Michigan. This week, the Jaguars will be on the road again, this time heading west to battle UCLA.

UCLA is also 2-0 with home wins over Bowling Green and Alabama State. It will be at home once again before heading to Colorado next week for its Pac-12 opener.

This will be the first meeting between South Alabama and UCLA and only the second time UCLA has faced an opponent from the Sun Belt.

UCLA is a 15.5-point favorite this week. However, this week's matchup will start at 11 a.m. PT. Can UCLA avoid sleepwalking in its nonconference finale?

South Alabama Jaguars

The Jaguars have been explosive on offense through the first two games. They're averaging 43 points per game and 505 yards of total offense. The offense has been balanced with a 53/47 run/pass split, but it has been far more productive through the air.

Quarterback Carter Bradley has thrown for 597 yards, completing 64.2% of his passes with six touchdowns and just one interception.

South Alabama lost top wide receiver Jalen Tolbert to the NFL. However Jalen Wayne and Caullin Lacy have stepped up to his replace his production. Wayne has caught 13 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns, while Lacy has 11 receptions for 169 yards.

Running back La'Damian Webb has 191 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 4.9 yards per carry. His running mate, Terrion Avery, has been less efficient, averaging 3.3 yards per carry this. As a team, South Alabama averages four yards per carry and ranks 59th in Rushing Success Rate and 77th in rushing play explosiveness.

While those numbers are relatively middle-of-the-pack, it will be going against a UCLA defense that ranks fourth in defending explosive running plays.

South Alabama has just three sacks through two games and now ranks 90th in Havoc. Those numbers have come against Nicholls State and Central Michigan, so it'll be much different when the Jaguars face a UCLA team that ranks 17th in Havoc Allowed.

Additionally, getting the mobile Dorian Thompson-Robinson to the ground will be difficult.

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UCLA Bruins

Thompson-Robinson finds himself in his fifth season under center, and he has gotten off to a fast start this season. He's completing 75% of his passes and has three touchdown passes with one interception.

However, last week Thompson-Robinson was pulled mid-series in the second quarter, and head coach Chip Kelly referred to him as unavailable after the game. Backup Ethan Garbers filled in admirably, going 14-of-18 for 164 yards.

Running back Zach Charbonnet dressed but didn't play against Alabama State. He ran for 111 rushing yards and a touchdown in the season opener against Bowling Green.

But there's good news for the Bruins — both Thompson-Robinson and Charbonnet have been full participants at practice this week and are expected to play.

UCLA ranks sixth in Line Yards, eighth in Rushing Success Rate and 14th nationally in pass-blocking grade.  It will have a huge advantage in those areas against South Alabama. UCLA could stand to improve at Finishing Drives — it ranks 56th nationally — though those opportunities could come against a South Alabama defense that ranks 83rd in Finishing Drives.

Defensively, UCLA stands at eighth in pass rush grade, 20th in Passing Success Rate Allowed and 30th in Havoc.

Edge rushers Laiatu Latu and Grayson Murphy have led the way thus far, as Latu has two tackles for loss and two sacks while Murphy has 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks this season.

The Bruins also rank 16th in rushing success rate, 18th in line yards, and 22nd in finishing drives. The Bruins will have an edge against the Jaguars in all categories.

South Alabama vs. UCLA Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how South Alabama and UCLA match up statistically:

South Alabama Offense vs. UCLA Defense
Rush Success5516
Line Yards5418
Pass Success4020
Pass Blocking**818
Finishing Drives2822
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

UCLA Offense vs. South Alabama Defense
Rush Success827
Line Yards687
Pass Success2924
Pass Blocking**1495
Finishing Drives5683
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling2897
PFF Coverage3045
SP+ Special Teams64116
Seconds per Play27.0 (79)22.1 (13)
Rush Rate52.5% (67)51.9% (68)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

South Alabama vs. UCLA Betting Pick

The Sun Belt was the talk of college football last week, as Appalachian State, Marshall and Georgia Southern pulled off upsets over Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Nebraska, respectively.

South Alabama will be looking to pull off its own upset this week, but I don't think it happens here.

UCLA will have a huge edge in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The return of Charbonnet on the ground will also be huge this week. Charbonnet should have a big day, and I expect him to go over 100 yards.

UCLA's defense should put Bradley under more pressure than he has faced in the first two games, which could lead to turnovers. UCLA will capitalize on those opportunities.

Action Network projects UCLA as a 17.5-point favorite this week. At -15.5, you're getting two points of value. I like the Bruins to win big at home and cover here.

Pick: UCLA -15.5

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