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Texas A&M

vs.

UCLA

College Football Pick

9/3/17

This game seemed much more relevant a year ago as both Texas A&M and UCLA had higher hopes for the season. Now, neither come in ranked with both needing a boost to becom relevant on a national level again. The Bruins, despite finishing with four wins last year, are -3.5 point home favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

Most of UCLA’s hopes revolve around Josh Rosen, whose NFL stock has only dwindled since playing in college. The junior battled injury last season, but is ready to go after just 10 touchdowns in six games last year. But even with Rosen under center, the biggest thing for this offense is on the line where four starters return. If that group can’t improve, the Bruins will have trouble reaching a bowl game yet again. Between running backs Soso Jamabo, Nate Starks and Bolu Olorunfunmi, they averaged just 2.9 yards per carry in 2016. If that number doesn’t go up, neither does this team’s win total.

When these teams met last season in College Station, the Aggies did just enough to win in overtime. While Rosen threw for 343 yards, he had only one touchdown to go with three picks. With seven returning defensive starters, including three seniors in the secondary, A&M will aim to confound Rosen again. If not, it’ll be up to an offense that didn’t know its starting quarterback a week before the game. That doesn’t help as the difference ended up being Trevor Knight in last year’s game, who had three total touchdowns. Without him, the Aggies have some questions to answer on offense.

Freshman Nick Starkel was reportedly the favorite early on, but more recently senior Jake Hubenak has received more buzz after seeing limited time the last two seasons. True freshman Kellen Mond seems like the odd-man out. Either way, this offense could still look much different after falling apart to close last season. A&M’s only two wins in its final six games came against NMSU and UTSA.

The Aggies still have stud wide receiver Christian Kirk (83 receptions, 928 yards), but it’s likely they’ll try to run more than pass with Trayveon Williams (1,057 yards) and Keith Ford (669 yards). The absence of Knight could hurt in both aspects. The Aggies lost a couple guys to the NFL on the line and that could prove troublesome against better opponents.

To help, UCLA’s defense remains a work-in-progress that only returns four starters. There’s talent in the lineup because it’s UCLA, but the results haven’t come to fruition in recent seasons under Jim Mora. Speaking of Mora, without a win here, the Bruins could be headed for another long season and possibly the end of the coach’s tenure with the school.

Playing at home, UCLA has the leg up to go with the advantage at quarterback going to Rosen. So the spread makes sense, even after the Bruins struggled last season. This team still won three of five games when Rosen made it the entire game last season. As long as their offensive line doesn’t completely flop, the Bruins get the edge against a team that is still undecided on its starting quarterback.

Our Pick - UCLA -3.5

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