Hawaii vs. UCLA Odds, Picks, Predictions: Bet Bruins Early in Saturday’s Game (August 28)
Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images. Pictured: Greg Dulcich (left) and Kyle Philips (right).
- Todd Graham's Hawaii Rainbow Warriors travel to the mainland at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday to take on Chip Kelly's UCLA Bruins in California.
- Both teams boast stellar dual-threat quarterbacks in Chevan Cordeiro and Dorian Thompson Robinson, and stopping the opponent on the ground could be a key aspect to covering for each defense.
- Check out Collin Wilson's betting guide below, complete with updated odds, a pick, and a prediction based on his analysis.
Hawaii vs. UCLA Odds
Two changes on the offensive side of the ball lead the offseason news for both the Bruins and Warriors.
UCLA looked to San Jose State passing game coordinator Ryan Gunderson to take on the role of quarterbacks’ coach with the Bruins. The former Broyles Award nominee was responsible for the rebirth of a San Jose State offense that was top-25 in Passing Success Rate.
For Hawai’i, GJ Kinne moves on from the coordinator role to Central Florida. The GoGo offense produced poor numbers in Success Rate, but a new look may be in store for coordinator Bo Graham, son of head coach Todd Graham.
Tempo will be key, with the younger Graham being quoted as wanting to “snap the ball as many times as possible.”
Todd Graham begins his second year on the island after a 5-4 record that included a New Mexico Bowl win over Houston.
Now, the Warriors have one of the easiest 2021 schedules in the nation with the toughest game coming in the opener against the Bruins.
Rainbow Warriors Offense
Through the coaching changes from Nick Rolovich to Graham, the heartbeat of the offense is Chevan Cordeiro. The quarterback racked up 646 yards on the ground last season with an equal split between scrambles and designed runs.
The big difference in 2021 was the number of big-time throws with 14 compared to 11 turnover-worthy plays.
The return of Calvin Turner adds another dual-threat weapon to the Hawai’i offensive attack.
The Run-and-Gun offense requires running backs to be a heavy part of the passing game.
Graham mentioned a change in offensive philosophy for the bowl game that led to a 21-0 lead by the second quarter. Hawai’i will continue to push tempo after finishing 33rd in seconds per play in 2021.
Both Passing Success Rate and Finishing Drives finished outside the top 100 last season, but a bump in those categories could see a significant bump on the Warriors’ scoreboard.
Rainbow Warriors Defense
The secondary may be the best unit of the Mountain West Conference, but tackling continues to be an issue for the team. Hawai’i finished the 2021 season ranked dead last in tackling, per PFF.
Victor Santa Cruz was reassigned from coordinator to defensive ends coach, as secondary coach Trent Figg secured coordinator duties.
Figg will move from the press box to the sideline, a challenge for the first-time coordinator. Figg commented that tackling in the secondary has been the primary focus this fall camp.
The Hawai’i defense stiffened with their backs to the end zone, finishing top-25 in Finishing Drives.
If the Warriors’ defensive front seven can improve against the rush, Hawai’i has a shot to give UCLA a close game.
Chip Kelly enters year four with plenty of expectations.
The Bruins finished 2020 with four losses by a combined 15 points. This roster loses just seven lettermen from last season, but that did not deter Kelly from using the transfer portal to better the team.
Defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro was given a one-year extension after last season. The numbers suggest change is needed with an Opponent Rushing Success Rate rank of 121st and a final tackling grade rank of 113th.
The Bruins have the personnel to get to opposing quarterbacks, but Line Yards and coverage ranks must improve.
UCLA has one of the more loaded offenses in the nation.
Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson will have a new quarterback coach to improve the passing game. The fourth-year starter has amassed 21 big-time throws to 44 turnover-worthy plays through the air.
DTR’s dual-threat capability has allowed him compiled 685 scramble yards over his career, doubling his number of 15-plus yard runs through the shortened 2020 season.
Another weapon on the offense is Duke transfer Brittain Brown.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) December 6, 2020
Brown created 16 missed tackles on 82 rushing attempts for the Bruins last season, but his biggest strength is shown in the clip above. The senior running back averaged 4.8 yards after contact, giving warning to defenses with poor tackling ranks.
The running back stable was complemented by the transfer portal with Michigan import Zach Charbonnet. The sophomore produced 11 touchdowns to just one fumble in 2019, hopefully providing stability to UCLA’s ongoing issue with turnovers.
UCLA ended last season with a 61% rush rate and a tempo rank in the top 20.
The offensive line returns every starter along with wide receiver Kyle Philips and tight end Greg Dulcich.
The trench did post a rank in the top 40 in Line Yards but must improve a Sack Rate of 52nd to give a stable of quarterbacks a window in passing downs. The Bruins have one of the most potent attacks in college football, and a Finishing Drives rank in the top 35 should continue this season.
The implementation of the 4-2-5 scheme created headaches for Azzinaro and assistant head coach Brian Norwood last season.
Not only did scheme play a role in the final numbers, but UCLA also dealt with a number of transfers into the program with the pandemic limiting preseason practice.
Most of UCLA DT Otito Ogbonnia's time is spent taking on doubles or nose-up on C stuffing runs. But I've seen the 330-lber win gaps like on this play, chase quick passes to the hash. Keeping his pads low and staying fresh gives him a shot to be a player on Sundays. #SnapScout22 pic.twitter.com/j39H8FLuRg
— Chad Reuter (@chad_reuter) July 11, 2021
Although the Bruins finished 73rd in Defensive Havoc, every contributor returns. A handful of players, including cornerback Obi Eboh, had a missed tackle rate of 25% or more.
The talent exists for UCLA to be a Havoc-minded defense, but an overall Success Rate rank of 103rd must improve to keep games from turning into a shootout.
Hawaii vs. UCLA Matchup Analysis
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Hawaii Offense vs. UCLA Defense
UCLA Offense vs. Hawaii Defense
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Hawaii vs. UCLA Betting Pick
Get the offensive fireworks ready on both sides of the ball. Each team sends a dual-threat quarterback under center with multiple explosive playmakers at the skill positions.
Both teams finished top-35 in pace of play.
Coinciding with the offensive alikeness, each team fields a defense that has issues stopping the chains against the rush. Thompson-Robinson, Brown and Cordeiro may post the best college fantasy numbers of the day.
Not many draft prospects today, but R-sophomore QB Chevan Cordeiro is pretty fun pic.twitter.com/kGkTUAyh81
— Matt Gajewski (@Matt_Gajewski) December 24, 2020
There is a major talent discrepancy from a recruiting standpoint with both of these teams, ultimately leading UCLA to getting more stops. With Hawai’i under new management at both coordinator positions, the handicap comes down to the Bruins defense playing contain against Cordeiro.
The Action Network projection is UCLA -17.5, in line with the current market. The question remains as to when the starters will be pulled for next week’s LSU game. With a two-score lead, Kelly may elect to see quarterbacks Chase Griffin, Ethan Garbers and freshman sensation Parker McQuarrie.
The depth of the UCLA roster should maintain a lead over Hawai’i in the second half, but the safer bet may come in the first half before the starters are pulled.
The total projection from last season would come in the low 60s, but considering the Warriors’ change in coaching personnel and depth at the skill positions, it remains to be seen whether or not Hawai’i can score its share of the points.
With a temperature expected over 90 degrees, an under must be considered at 69 or higher.
Pick: UCLA -10 1H or better.