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UCLA vs. Colorado Odds, Picks: How to Back Bruins, Thompson-Robinson

UCLA vs. Colorado Odds, Picks: How to Back Bruins, Thompson-Robinson article feature image
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Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images. Pictured: Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA)

UCLA vs. Colorado Odds

Saturday, Sept 24
2 p.m. ET
Pac-12 Network
UCLA Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-21.5
-112
57.5
-110o / -110u
-1700
Colorado Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+21.5
-108
57.5
-110o / -110u
+890
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The Colorado Buffaloes host the UCLA Bruins on Saturday afternoon in Boulder as both teams begin Pac-12 play.

These teams come into this matchup on opposite trajectories. The Buffaloes were swept in three embarrassing non-conference blowouts, while the Bruins narrowly escaped a scare against South Alabama last Saturday and have their first 3-0 start since 2015.

Will the Buffaloes show signs of life on Saturday, or will the Bruins bounce back with a commanding victory after nearly being upset as double-digit favorites last week?


UCLA Bruins

The UCLA offense looks like a Chip Kelly offense, with dual-threat quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson leading the way, along with the running back duo of Zach Charbonnet and Keegan Jones.

The Bruins rank 24th in Rush Success Rate, 13th in Line Yards and 31st in Rush Play Explosiveness, as the ground game remains their bread and butter.

However, if the Bruins are to become a contender in the Conference of Champions this season, they need DTR and the passing game to take a step forward.

DTR has only one Big Time Throw to three Turnover Worthy Plays and a middling 60.3 PFF Passing Grade this season.

Receivers Jake Bobo and Kazmeir Allen have flashed early on for a UCLA team that is replacing explosive pass catchers in Greg Dulcich and Kyle Phillips, who have moved onto the NFL.

Defensively, the Bruins have been stout against the run through three games but struggled to formulate pressure against South Alabama last week.

The lack of a strong pass rush could be exposed in future games, as UCLA ranks 100th in the nation in Pass Down EPA/Play Allowed. However, against a Colorado offense that lacks playmakers on the outside, this weakness may not get exposed this week.


Colorado Buffaloes

The Buffs are a complete mess. The offense has two struggling quarterbacks — J.T. Shrout and Brendon Lewis — who don’t have dynamic playmakers around them. Also, the offensive line play has been poor, as expected entering the season.

Consequently, Colorado has rushed for just 3.8 yards per carry and scored a single non-garbage-time touchdown in three games to start the season against TCU, Air Force and Minnesota.

The Buffaloes had a few impact players at skill positions on offense, but they all left via the transfer portal. As a result, Shrout, the better passer of the two quarterbacks, has just a 52.0 PFF Passing Grade and three Big Time Throws to seven Turnover Worthy Plays.

The Buffs’ receivers haven’t helped him much with eight total drops on the season.

Lewis, who hardly ever throws the ball down the field, has an identical 52.0 PFF Passing Grade and just one Big Time Throw to two Turnover Worthy Plays.

Defensively, Colorado hasn’t been much better. The Buffaloes have a pass rush that ranks 82nd nationally, but they rank outside the top 100 in most other metrics.

The Buffaloes had a strong outside corner duo last season, but both of those corners transferred to other Pac-12 programs. Colorado has struggled to replace them on the back end, as the defense ranks 128th in PFF Coverage Grade and 118th in PFF Tackling Grade.

Ralphie VI got to drink out of the Stanley Cup this week, but that’s as close to any trophy as this Colorado football program will get anytime soon.

In fact, the Buffs may not even win a game this season, as they should be underdogs against each of their remaining nine Pac-12 opponents.

Ralphie VI deserves better.

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UCLA vs. Colorado Matchup Analysis

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

UCLA Offense vs. Colorado Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 24 131
Line Yards 13 129
Pass Success 11 105
Pass Blocking** 6 82
Havoc 16 126
Finishing Drives 66 127
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Colorado Offense vs. UCLA Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 79 63
Line Yards 36 33
Pass Success 113 55
Pass Blocking** 94 27
Havoc 73 48
Finishing Drives 119 48
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 92 118
PFF Coverage 31 128
SP+ Special Teams 83 28
Seconds per Play 22.7 (14) 26.1 (62)
Rush Rate 52.9% (72) 52.5% (75)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

UCLA vs. Colorado Betting Pick

Looking at the matchup matrices above, UCLA holds an edge in just about every single statistical category on offense and defense.

The UCLA defense, which thrives in stopping the run, should hold the Colorado offense in check early and force the struggling Colorado offense to pass more often while playing from behind.

The UCLA rush offense — with DTR, Charbonnet and Jones — will run wild against a Colorado front that ranks 129th (out of 131 FBS teams) in Line Yards. Last year, the Bruins rushed for 244 yards and 6.0 yards per carry in a 44-20 win against the Buffs.

UCLA trailed after the first quarter against Bowling Green in Week 1 and against South Alabama last week. But instead of playing in front of about seven fans at the sleepy Rose Bowl 30 minutes away from campus, the Bruins will play in a much more lively atmosphere at Folsom Field this Saturday.

Consequently, this feels like a great spot to back the Bruins on the first-half spread of -12.5. After nearly being upset at home last week, the Bruins should come out much more focused this week.

They also have a short week ahead thanks to a Friday night game against Washington at the Rose Bowl next week, so the focus should be on taking an early lead in Boulder before shortening the game in the second half.

The second-half live total under will also be in play if UCLA takes a commanding lead into the half.

Pick: UCLA First Half -12.5 (DraftKings)

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