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UCLA Bruins

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Jim Mora has had some success with UCLA in his five seasons at the helm, but the Bruins still haven’t done anything major and haven’t won the South division since his first campaign. Last year was the worst yet for Mora with UCLA finishing with just four wins, two in Pac-12 play. The Bruins have their quarterback in Josh Rosen, but what else is there?

Rosen (59.3% completion, 10 TDs, 5 INTs) is fully healthy after dealing with a shoulder injury last year and he’s projected to be one of the top picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. So why isn’t UCLA expected to do better after scoring only 24.9 points per game a year ago? In addition to Rosen’s injury, the running game was brutal with the team averaging 2.9 yards per carry as Soso Jamabo led the team with 321 rushing yards. Four offensive linemen return, so it’s hard to see them being as bad, but they won’t turn into a great group overnight. Jamabo is still there with Bolu Olorunfunmi expected to have a bigger role. Rosen’s top targets return as well in Darren Andrews and Jordan Lasley, so if this offense isn’t better than last year, something is wrong. They brought in Jedd Fisch to run the offense, formerly of Michigan and a few different NFL teams.

The Bruins weren’t as bad defensively and that kept them around some games, but an ineffective offense did them in more often than not. Unfortunately, that group loses a few players to the NFL so it will be a bit young, albeit talented. The secondary should be the best unit with decent experience at every spot starting with safeties Jaleel Wodood and Adarius Pickett to go with top corner Nate Meadors. Senior linebacker Kenny Young is expected to run the group, but he’ll need others to step up around him, especially on the line.

Even with Rosen, the Bruins are well behind USC (+115) in odds to win the Pac -12 (+900 at 5Dimes Sportsbook). A lot of that has to do with a few road games that stand out, starting with Stanford in September and then trips to Washington, Utah and USC filtered throughout the season. UCLA would like to start things off better with a win against A&M in the opener and from there could win their three non-conference games. But with that Pac-12 schedule, it’s hard to see UCLA competing for the title. For that to happen, either Rosen has to step up, the running game has to return to 2015’s levels or the defense has to become one of the best in the country. Otherwise, the Bruins have too difficult of a schedule to compete with the Trojans in the South division. Reaching double-digit wins is a stretch, but at the least, eight wins is on the table and definitely a bowl game. If not, Mora’s job could be in jeopardy by December.


2017 UCLA Bruins Football Schedule

Sept. 3 vs. Texas A&M
Sept. 9 vs. Hawaii
Sept. 16 at Memphis
Sept. 23 at Stanford

Sept. 30 vs. Colorado
Oct. 14 at Arizona

Oct. 21 vs. Oregon
Oct. 28 at Washington
Nov. 3 at Utah
Nov. 11 vs. Arizona State
Nov. 18 at USC
Nov. 24 vs. California

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