College Football Pick
Inconsistency and underperforming have plagued these two teams over the last few years. The winner between UCLA and Texas A&M will be hoping for an improved season, while the loser will be left asking questions per usual. At home, the Aggies are slim -3 point favorites as seen at betonline Sportsbook.
It seems like UCLA is slated to win the Pac-12 every year since Jim Mora has come over. Instead, the Bruins simply disappoint and end up a Game or two behind in the conference, much like last year when they finished 8-5 overall with losses in three of the final Four Games. Even in 2012 when they sneaked into the Pac-12 title Game, they lost their final three Games of the season, two of them to Stanford.
Texas A&M has more or less been the same with Kevin Sumlin in charge. In 2012 when the Aggies closed as the No. 5 team in the country, they were only 6-2 in SEC play and one back of Alabama.
Will this be the year one of them takes the next step?
The hope for UCLA is that sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen takes his expected leap into becoming one of the best in the country. He was solid as a freshman, throwing for 23 TDs and 11 INTs, but inconsistencies and turnovers cost him and the team as a whole. Now without most of his top receiving options and Paul Perkins in the backfield, Rosen will have more work weighing on his shoulders. Even the offensive line is fairly fresh with only a couple starters returning from last year’s group.
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But even if Rosen improves, it’s hard to see UCLA improving on last year’s 32.2 points per Game. To make things tougher, Texas A&M is no longer a walkover defensively. The Aggies, with the help of coordinator John Chavis, were solid last season, holding teams to just 22 points per Game. In last year’s opener against a Pac-12 team, A&M easily took down Arizona State 38-17.
But A&M’s overall success will depend on what the offense can day after last year’s struggles. They brought in coordinator Noel Mazzone to help and will get a decent test against UCLA in this Game, who return multiple players from injury.
Trevor Knight, former mediocre Oklahoma quarterback, is now under center for Sumlin with the hopes the Aggies can return to levels seen a couple years ago. All of that could be possible with a loaded receiving corps led by Christian Kirk, Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones. And then in the backfield, A&M also got another Sooners transfer in Keith Ford.
The tools are there for the Aggies to compete in the SEC this year, but it may fall to Knight if they want to stick with the best. Beating UCLA will be their first task.
The Bruins were far too inconsistent last year to trust and with this Game halfway across the country, the Aggies may be the pick here. Although, if Rosen does make that next leap, UCLA won’t be a popular team to bet against.
Our Pick – Texas A&M -3