UCLA at MemphisSaturday, 9 am PTCRIS Opener:
UCLA-4.5 O/U 72CRIS Current:
UCLA -3 O/U 72Recommendation:
The scoreboard results look decent for UCLA, with a 2-0 mark to open the season. Josh Rosen has put up some huge numbers, throwing for 820 yards with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions against Texas A&M and Hawaii. And yet, despite those monster stats from Rosen, the Bruins have all the makings of a bet-against team in early start TV action on Saturday.
Let’s start with this: Rosen has zero interceptions only because Texas A&M dropped the ball, with Rosen every bit as lucky as he was good in the Aggies late defensive meltdown. And we need to note the miserable spot here for the Bruins. They’ve got a major revenge matchup with Stanford on deck, coming off a remarkable comeback and an easy blowout. This game reeks of a legitimate flat spot for the road favorite, especially when we consider the noon Eastern Time start – that’s 9 AM on the body clocks for the kids from the West Coast.
There’s another anti-UCLA factor in play here – Jim Mora’s track record in games like this one. The results don’t lie. Dating back to the start of the 2014 season, my numbers show Mora and the Bruins with a grand total of three pointspread covers in their last 13 non-conference affairs, not a team to be laying points with thousands of miles from home with Stanford on deck!
But the biggest factor of all
one that makes it very easy to support for Memphis in this ballgame – is the failure of the UCLA defense in early season play. Again, the results don’t lie. In two games, the Bruins have been gashed for 663 yards, allowing a whopping 6.3 yards per carry. Hawaii ran the ball down their collective throats last week: 281 rushing yards at 6.7 yards per carry. That’s a real problem against a team like Memphis!
Make no mistake about it – the Tigers have the skill position talent to trade points with UCLA. Senior QB Riley Ferguson is surrounded by Power 5 Conference depth at WR and RB; an offense loaded with playmakers. Memphis is going to spread the field and push the pace, both problems for the Bruins defense in early season play. And the Tigers are primed to make a statement, at home, on national TV, against a national powerhouse. Riley Ferguson: “I’m ready. I know all of our guys are ready for it. Everybody’s going to be watching. It’s time to go out there and show everybody what we can do.”