UCLA vs Texas A&M Week 1 Expert Pick and Odds
A pair of eight-win playoff hopefuls will kick off their respective 2016 regular seasons when the Texas A&M Aggies host the UCLA Bruins in an intriguing Week 1 showdown that gets underway in the Lone Star State in approximately three weeks. Now, let’s find out which one of these college football betting picks will get the ATS victory!
Let’s Take a Look at the UCLA vs Texas A&M Week 1 Expert Pick, Odds & TV Info
— UCLA Football (@UCLAFootball) August 8, 2016
Why Bet The UCLA Bruins (+1.5)?
The Bruins (8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS) are a good bet because they have the best quarterback and defense in this Week 1 opener. UCLA has nine returning starters on defense and a gifted young quarterback that proved himself last season, but head coach Jim Mora needs to find replacements for gifted running back Paul Perkins and both starting wide receivers on the offensive side of the ball. Not only that, but the Bruins must replace thee of five starters on the offensive line in 2016.
The good news is that Mora has a gifted signal-caller in sophomore 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.
The defense struggled to stop the run last year in allowing three opponents to rush for at least 300 yards, including Nebraska in their season-ending Foster Farms Bowl game loss. Not only that, but UCLA will have to find replacements for its best two defensive players from last season in All-American nose tackle Kenny Clark and gifted hybrid linebacker/safety Myles Jack.
The good news is that UCLA has plenty of talent reload with starting with linebacker ad 2015 leading tackler Jaylon Brown and defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes who returns after missing the 2015 campaign with a torn ACL. The Bruins also have all fur starters back from a secondary ha led the Pac-12 in pass defense a year ago.
Why Bet The Texas A&M Aggies (-1.5)?
The Aggies are a good bet because they can score the ball with the best teams in all of college football and are playing at home. Texas A&M (8-5 SU, 5-8 ATS) returns 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. Knight will be challenged by junior Jake Hubenak, who made his only start last season in the Aggies’ Music City Bowl loss to Louisville.
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, senior Josh Reynolds, an All-SEC selection two years ago and Ricky Seals-Jones who had 45 catches for 560 yards as a sophomore last season.
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, the Aggies are very solid after finishing fourth nationally in passing yards allowed (166.3 ypg). 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. Former four-star recruit Priest Willis, who sat out last seasonafter transferring from UCLA, could turn out to be a star.
My 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 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!
My Expert Pick: UCLA 41 Texas &M 27