Schedule and Odds
The Pac-12 is a toss-up because so many teams are good enough to win it, but don’t have anything special to separate from the pack. Oregon may be the favorite, but they also have to deal with a new quarterback. In May, UCLA sat with the third-best odds (behind Oregon and USC) to win the Conference at +525 (at 5 Dimes). Brett Hundley is gone, but they return 18 starters, the most in the conference, and one of the highest rates in the country.
Jim Mora has completely changed the culture of UCLA football since coming over and that shows in back-to-back 10-win seasons and continual solid recruiting classes. With Hundley gone, UCLA’s biggest question will be at quarterback. Freshman Jeff Rosen is getting all the hype because he’s highly rated and is an early enrollee, but nothing was confirmed in the spring. Junior Jerry Neuheisel, who saw limited time last year and two more QBs are fighting for the job. No matter who wins, they’ll have plenty of help.
Paul Perkins (1,575 yards, 9 TDs) is back in the running Game (with Nate Starks behind him) and he’s expected to have an even better season behind an offensive line that should be improved. The line returns all starters from their bowl win and has decent depth. The new QB will also have experience to work with as seven of their top eight receivers return, including Jordan Payton (67 receptions, 7 TDs), Devin Fuller (59 receptions) and Thomas Duarte. Quarterback is obviously the biggest question, and replacing Hundley won’t be easy, but the running Game should be able to get them through early-season non-Conference Games at the least.
Long-time Penn State coach Tom Bradley takes over as the new defensive coordinator for UCLA. The Bruins weren’t overwhelming on the defensive side last year, and there’s hope Bradley can improve them at least somewhat, but losing Eric Hendricks and Owamagbe Odighizuwa to the NFL won’t be easy to overcome. Even though previous coordinator Jeff Ulbrich moved onto the NFL, Bradley has the experience to improve this unit.
The Bruins still have studs like Myles Jack and Kenny Young at linebacker, along with Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenneth Clark along the line. The secondary is as deep as they come as well, especially with safety Randall Goforth back and healthy.
The one thing standing in UCLA’s way, may be its Schedule. None of their non-Conference Games will be easy – although all should be wins – but they open Pac-12 play at Arizona. Road Games at Stanford, Utah and USC also filter the Schedule. It won’t be easy, but those last two back-to-back road Games to close the season at Utah and USC could determine the winner of the South.
Getting consistent play from quarterback will go a long way for this team and hopes at another 10-win season. However, even with all of the returning players, it’s hard to take UCLA for another double-digit win season with all of those difficult road Games. It’s a possibility, but it won’t be easy.
2015 UCLA Football Schedule
Sept. 5 vs. Virginia
Sept. 12 at UNLV
Sept. 19 vs. BYU
Sept. 26 at Arizona
Oct. 3 vs. Arizona State
Oct. 15 at Stanford
Oct. 22 vs. California
Oct. 31 vs. Colorado
Nov. 7 at Oregon State
Nov. 14 vs. Washington State
Nov. 21 at Utah
Nov. 28 at USC