Can Texas A&M Hold Down The Fort Against UCLA In Regular Season Opener?
The Texas A&M Aggies will look to hold down the fort when they host the UCLA Bruins in an intriguing Week 1 matchup of two teams that won an identical eight games a year ago.
Bet The UCLA Bruins at +1.5 Because…
UCLA Bruins are a good bet because they have the best quarterback in this Week 1 opener. The Bruins (8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS) have nine returning starters on defense and a gifted young quarterback that proved himself last season in sophomore signal-caller Josh Rosen, a player that earned Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors last season after throwing for 3,669 yards and 23 touchdowns, although he did toss a costly 11 interceptions.
Still, head coach Jim Mora needs to find replacements three of five starters on the offensive line, gifted running back Paul Perkins and both starting wide receivers. The defense struggled to stop the run last year and allowed three opponents to rush for at least 300 yards, including Nebraska in their season-ending Foster Farms Bowl game loss.
UCLA could have even more trouble stopping the run in 2016 if they don’t find adequate replacements for its best two defensive players from last season in All-American nose tackle Kenny Clark and gifted hybrid linebacker/safety Myles Jack.
Bet The Texas A&M Aggies at -1.5 Because…
Texas A&M Aggies is a good bet in this contest because they can score the ball with the best teams in all of college football and are playing at home. The Aggies (8-5 SU, 5-8 ATS) return six starters from its 2015 squad but needs to replace three starters on the offensive line and will have a new starting quarterback in graduate transfer Trevor Knight, a dual-threat signal-caller that got beat out by Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma.
Knight will be A&M’s fourth different starting quarterback in four years, but he showed flashes of stardom by leading the Sooners to a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama in 2013 while throwing for over 2,300 yards in 2014. Running back Keith Ford, another transfer from Oklahoma, is being counted on to take over as the starting running back and the Aggies have a solid group of wide receivers that is led by sophomore Christian Kirk who caught 80 passes for 1,009 yards and seven touchdowns as a true freshman.
Defensively, Texas A&M returns seven starters and will be led by gifted junior All-America defensive end Myles Garrett and senior Daeshon Hall. The pair combined for 19.5 sacks in 2015 and could improve on that figure in 2016. The Aggies will need some solid play out of their new starting defensive tackles, Daylon Mack and Kingsley Keke and linebackers Otaro Alaka, the Defensive MVP of the 2014 Liberty Bowl and sophomore Richard Moore.
In the secondary, safeties Justin Evans and Armani Watts are as good as any pair in the country while nickel back Donovan Wilson led the team with five interceptions a year ago.
Expert Pick & Final Score Prediction
UCLA will enter the 2016 season with their fair share of question marks, but with talented quarterback Josh Rosen under center, the Bruins are my pick to get the win and ATS cover in their opener despite being on the road.
Texas A&M has had a well-documented dysfunctional offseason that will almost assuredly result in a season full of struggles in my opinion. The Aggies have more questions at quarterback and will have multiple new starters on both, the offensive and defensive lines. The Bruins get the win here, mostly because they’ll have the best quarterback on the field in the promising Josh Rosen!