Texas A&M Aggies at UCLA Bruins
Sunday, September 3, 2017, 7:30 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
Rose Bowl – Pasadena, California
Opening Line: UCLA -3
Current Line: UCLA -4 1/2
Opening Total: 59
Current Total: 58 1/2
Opening Money Line: UCLA -185 / TAMU +160
Current Money Line: UCLA -190 / TAMU +165
The UCLA Bruins host the Texas A&M Aggies Sunday night in the Rose Bowl. Texas A&M leads the series 3-2 against UCLA, including a 31-24 win last year in College Station. This is the second straight year, the Bruins and Aggies are opening the season against each other.
UCLA is coached by Jim Mora, Jr. The Bruins are coming off a disappointing 4-8 season including just 2-7 in the Pac 12. UCLA was 4-8 ATS and the total was 4-7-1 last year.
Texas A&M is coached by Kevin Sumlin. The Aggies went 8-5 and 4-4 in the SEC last year. They lost to former Big 12 rival Kansas State 33-28 in the Texas Bowl last year. The Aggies were 4-9 ATS and the total was 5-7-1 last year. The Aggies covered the first four games of the season and would not cover the last nine games of the season.
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Texas A&M outscored teams 35-25 last season. The Aggies averaged 467 yards per game on offense including 255 passing and 212 rushing yards per game. On defense, TAMU allowed 442 yards per game including 250 passing and 192 rushing yards. The Aggies were +3 in turnovers with 24 takeaways. Texas A&M averaged 53 penalty yards per game and opponents averaged 44 per game. The Aggies were 86/212 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 89/232. TAMU forced 39 sacks and allowed 21 last season. The Aggies were 46/54 scoring in the red zone with 33 touchdowns, and opponents were 42/56 with 26 touchdowns.
Quarterback Trevor Knight has graduated. He threw for 2,432 yards with 19 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, plus he rushed for 614 yards on 102 carries with 10 touchdowns. Senior Jake Hubenak started several games last season in place of an injured Knight. He threw for 884 yards with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and rushed for 44 yards. He beat out freshmen Kellen Mond and Nick Starkel for the starting job.
Besides Knight, the top three running backs return for the Aggies. Trayveon Williams had 156 carries for 1,057 yards and 8 touchdowns, plus 19 catches for 91 yards. Keith Ford had 126 carries for 669 yard and 5 touchdowns, plus 5 catches. Kendall Bussey will also get some carries.
Receiver Josh Reynolds is now with the Los Angeles Rams after making 61 catches for 1,039 yards and 12 touchdowns. Christian Kirk is back after making 83 catches for 928 yards and 9 touchdowns last year. Damion Ratley is a senior but largely untested. Freshman Jhamon Ausbon will also start. Tight end Kalvin Cline will also get some targets.
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UCLA was outscored 28-25 last season. The Bruins averaged 380 yards per game on offense including 296 passing and 84 rushing yards. UCLA allowed 382 yards per game on defense including 211 passing and 172 rushing. The Bruins were -2 in turnovers with 23 takeaways. UCLA averaged 60 penalty yards per game and opponents averaged 64 per game. The Bruins were 67/187 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 84/220. UCLA forced 25 sacks and allowed 24 last season. The Bruins were 31/39 scoring in the red zone with 22 touchdowns, and opponents were 43/49 with 25 touchdowns.
Outspoken quarterback Josh Rosen missed a sizable portion of last year with a shoulder injury. He looks to remain healthy in 2017. Rosen threw for 1,915 yards with 10 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Redshirt freshman Devon Modster takes over as the back-up from Mike Fafaul, who threw for 1,602 yards with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in place of Rosen last year.
The top three running backs return for the Bruins, but UCLA was terrible at rushing the ball last year. Soso Jamabo, Bolu Olorunfunmi and Nate Starks are all back, but the trio combined for just 882 rushing yards. Jamabo had 3 rushing touchdowns and Olorunfunmi had 4 rushing touchdowns. All three caught some passes out of the backfield as well.
Receiver Darren Andrews had 55 catches for 709 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown as well. Jordan Lasley had 41 catches for 620 yards and 5 touchdowns. Eldridge Massington will also start at receiver after making 20 catches for 285 yards. Tight end Caleb Wilson had 16 catches for 220 yards.
Texas A&M is 5-0 ATS in September, 2-6 in non-conference games, 7-22 on grass, 5-16 overall and 0-4 in road games.
UCLA is 6-1 ATS against SEC teams, 4-10 overall, 2-6 at home, 3-11 on grass, 0-5 in non-conference games and 0-4 in September.
UCLA underachieved last year due to injuries mainly. Texas A&M seemingly finishes 8-5 every year. Both these coaches are on the hot seat unless their teams perform better this season. Even on the road, I still think Texas A&M is a slightly better team. I like the Aggies to pull off the mild upset in a high scoring game.