UCLA'S Sleeper Potential
UCLA'S Sleeper Potential
By Wayne Root:
The UCLA Bruins have managed to stay off the radar this year because crosstown rival USC is making daily headlines. Even as UCLA is getting ready for a huge TV rematch with Nebraska that represents the marquee game in the early Saturday window...all everyone's talking about in Los Angeles and here in Las Vegas is the player's only meeting USC coach Lane Kiffin didn't even know about.
Let me tell you...UCLA may be making more headlines later this season than USC...and they'll be the GOOD kind of rosy headlines rather than reports about a crumbling coliseum.
I was very impressed with what I saw when UCLA routed Nevada in their season opener two weeks ago. That was a big game out here in Vegas because the locals follow the Los Angeles teams, and the Wolfpack are from Reno. You may not have watched it, or even read about it. What you missed was:
- UCLA getting market respect as a 21-point favorite
- UCLA topping market expectations in a 58-20 slaughter
- UCLA winning total yardage 647-353 to prove it wasn't a lucky win
- UCLA rushing for 345 yards and passing for 302 to show explosiveness and balance
That was some performance. Nevada isn't New Mexico or Idaho. The Wolfpack knows how to play. UCLA just toyed with them. And, now they've had a week off to get ready for a very tough test at Nebraska.
I'm extremely interested in how coach Jim Mora handles this challenge. It's a bad-body-clock game that tips off at 9 a.m. Pacific time (11 a.m. at Nebraska, noon ET if you're reading this on the East Coast). The tragic death of a teammate during the bye week made preparation an even more difficult task. And, Nebraska has revenge on its mind after losing at the Rose Bowl last September 36-30.
There's a lot of potential volatility in this game. On one hand, the Bruins may not be ready for peak intensity given what they just went through. On the other, Nebraska allowed 602 total yards to Wyoming!
After Saturday, the schedule lays out reasonably well for UCLA to repeat as champs of the Pac 12 South and maybe even make a run at something bigger. Next week is a home game against New Mexico State. UCLA will be prohibitive favorites there...and could even gain more than 700 yards vs. that opponent (Texas gained 679). Then a bye week leads into a crucial conference opener at Utah. Nobody will be fresher entering October than UCLA!
A trouble spot obviously awaits with road games at Stanford and Oregon in consecutive weeks October 19-26. The Bruins will be expected to lose those games...and would have to play at their peak to steal a win. I could see UCLA being favored in every other game the rest of the way (unless oddsmakers are still infatuated with overrated USC in the season finale). And, it's very helpful in the league picture to get both Washington and Arizona State in the Rose Bowl instead of having to play them on the road.
It's not an easy schedule by any means. But, it's a schedule that will impress the heck out of computers and pollsters if the Bruins can continue playing well. The talent is definitely there. And, former pro coaches often have surprises up their sleeves for big college games. Mora showed that last year, and he's just getting started. If the Bruins can get their eyes wide open for this Saturday's early start, YOU better have your eyes wide open about what they might accomplish the rest of the season.
I may or may not be playing UCLA/Nebraska on my Saturday card. I plan to follow up last week's Opening Week Game of the Year blowout on BYU over Texas with something very special. You can purchase the final word right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about finding the seasonal program that best suits your individual needs, you can call my handicapping office at 1-877-766-8946.
I'm the only man in the sports betting industry who has a star on the "Walk of Fame" here in Las Vegas. I'm always a few steps ahead of the oddsmakers. So, it's fitting that if an oddsmaker ever gets a star, his will be a few steps behind WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
I'm off to a great start this season thanks to that blowout on BYU. You know I'm the documented KING OF UPSETS...and that was a blockbuster upset call. Rest assured that the winning is just beginning! It's time for YOU to go to W.A.R alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
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