UCLA Bruins 2021 College Football Preview
Created July 26, 2021
Record – 3-4
ATS – 4-3
The Bruins treated their fans to some exciting games during the truncated plandemic season and finished with a mark of 3-4. Those four losses came against a respectable group of foes (Buffs, Ducks, USC, Stanford) and note that they lost to USC and Oregon by a combined 8 points. Things just might be coming together for Chip Kelly and the Bruins. Let’s check in with this year’s squad.
UCLA Bruins 2021 Outlook
UCLA was solid and balanced on offense LY. They ranked #12 in the FBS in rushing offense (231 YPG) and #20 in passing efficiency. QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson really looked good LY and put together a fine stat line (65%, 12-4 TD to INT, 306 rush, 3 TD) in 4.5 games. Backup Chase Griffin looked fine in limited action. The top-two targets are back to support the THROW GAME and TE Greg Dulcich is one of the best receiving TEs in the country (517, 19.9, 5 TD). #1 WR Kyle Philips was the team leader in receptions by a wide margin (38). The Bruins lose #1 RB Demetric Felton (668 rush, 22 receptions) but retain #2 Brittain Brown (6.6 YPC) and add transfer Zach Charbonnet from Michigan who’s a talented underachiever that could blossom in LA. Everyone returns up front and they should be really good once again.
The Bruins made improvements on defense a season ago but still posted fairly average numbers in most statistical categories (#69 FBS total D, #30 run, #53 pass efficiency D). They led the PAC 12 in sacks/game and were #4 in yards-per-play. Giving up 38+ on four occasions wasn’t ideal. 10 starters return (14T15 tacklers) with the only glaring omission being DL Osa Odighizuwa who was 2nd on the team in sacks LY (NFL). They don’t have a ton of size up front but NG Otito Ogbonnia is a keeper (6-4, 318). LB and leading tackler Caleb Johnson is probably the team’s best defensive player (7 TFL LY) and headlines a good LB unit. Everyone is back on the back and note that they picked off 9 passes in 7G LY (T1 PAC 12). We’ll call for another small step forward and they could allow fewer than 30 PPG for the first time since 2016.
The kicking game looks fine with the return of PK Nicholas Barr-Mira (6/7 FG LY) and P Luke Akers (39.0 net). They didn’t get much production at KR or PR in 2020.
Overall – They should be able to beat a pair of Mountain West foes in non-conference play (Hawaii, Fresno St) but have a DOOZY when LSU comes to town on September 4th. Three of their first four PAC 12 games are on the road and they draw Oregon and Washington from the North.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at Utah (October 30th)
This will be their 4th road game in six weeks and Utah might be the toughest road venue in the PAC 12.
Season Win Total
per 5Dimes July 26
Over 7 +105
Under 7 -125
We like this squad quite a bit on paper but they have some nasty road tests (Washington, Utah, USC, Stanford) and have to face LSU.
The Bruins have only beaten Stanford once in the last 13 tries. Last season’s 48-47 loss in 2OT was a kick in the JACOBS.
UCLA showed quite a bit of promise a season ago and have Chip Kelly’s best overall roster in 2021. The Pac 12 South is nasty and the schedule doesn’t help. They have one of the best QBs in the conference and if the defense can exceed expectations they just might be a SURPRISE PACKAGE in a competitive PAC 12.
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