The UCLA Bruins failed to live up the hype in 2015. Many had the Bruins picked to win the Pac-12 and compete for a national title. Instead they finished 3rd in the South and just 8-5 overall.
UCLA got off to a strong start at 4-0, but a 23-38 home loss to Arizona State was a sign of things to come. The Bruins lost the next week at Stanford by 21 points. They would late lose at home to Washington State and at USC.
Injuries certainly didn’t help matters in 2015. The biggest losses came on the defensive side of the ball. UCLA lost start defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes to a season ending injury in Week 1. They then lost Heisman hopeful Myles Jack and star corner Ishmael Adams for the year in Week 3.
There’s plenty of reason to believe that UCLA will rebound in 2016. The Bruins have a ton of talent coming back on both sides and get a very favorable schedule. Oddsmakers have their win total set at 8.5 games and they are one of the favorites to win the Pac-12.
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|9/3||@ Texas A&M|
|10/8||@ Arizona State|
|10/15||@ Washington State|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
*We take the win chance by using the college football win percentage chart for each point spread.
UCLA will play all 3 non-conference games out of the gate and going unbeaten will be difficult. They open up with a road game at Texas A&M, who is a popular sleeper pick in the SEC West. After a home game against UNLV they have to travel to BYU.
That game against the Cougars is a bit of a trap game, as they host Stanford the following week. The same could be said for their following game at Arizona, which is a big letdown spot.
They then have to go on the road to face both Arizona State and Washington State. Two games they will have a good chance at winning.
They also get winnable road games at both Colorado and California. The big game everyone will be looking at is the home game against USC on Nov. 19th. There’s a good chance that matchup will determine the South.
What stands out is that UCLA gets 5 of their 9 conference games at home. All 4 road games are very winnable and they get their two big contests against Stanford and USC at home. They also avoid two of the powers from the North in Washington and Oregon.
Last year there were huge expectations on the offensive side of the ball. They had 9 starters back and were adding talented true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen.
The numbers ended up being very similar to 2015, which was a bit of a disappointment. This year they only have 4 starters back, but Rosen returns under center. He showed more than enough in his freshman season to believe he’s going to be special over the next two years.
Rosen will have to make do with some new weapons at the skill positions. UCLA loses leading rusher Paul Perkins and 3 of their top 4 receivers (all NFL draft picks).
Perkins’ production won’t be easy to replace. He carried it 237 times for 1,343 yards and 14 touchdowns. Sophomore Sotonye Jamabo has the potential to fill the void. He averaged 6.1 yards/carry in limited action as a true freshman. Also in the mix is junior Nate Starks and sophomore Bolu Olorunfunmi.
The top two options at receiver returning from last year are junior Darren Andrews and senior Kenneth Walker. However, there’s a chance neither start in 2016. UCLA moved star corner Ishmael Adams to receiver in the spring. They also add in highly touted freshman Theo Howard.
The Bruins have some big holes to fill on the offensive line, with three starters gone. The good news is they get back star senior left tackle Conor McDermott. As well as starting junior guard Kenny Lacy. You could also count junior SCott Quessenberry as a returning starter. He had to use a medical red-shirt last year, but started all 13 games in 2014. Also added to the mix is Texas grad transfer Jake Raulerson, who is expected to start right away at guard.
Given what UCLA lost on the defensive side of the ball early in the year, it’s no surprise the unit struggled. Even with the loss of Jack and talented defensive tackle Kenny Clark, the unit is in great shape.
Up front they are loaded with experience and talent. Vanderdoes returns at defensive tackle as does his replacement last year in Eli Ankou. Matt Dickerson and Takkarist McKinley both return at defensive end. Plus, they are moving 2nd-Team All-Pac-12 linebacker Deon Hollins to defensive end.
Hollins shift to the d-line is to make room for star true freshman linebacker Mique Juarez. He’ll start alongside returning starters Kenny Young and Jayon Brown.
UCLA also looks to be very good in the secondary. Moreau returns at corner and will start along side senior Marcus Rios. At safety, they have one of the best duos in the conference in Randall Goforth and Jaleel Wadood.
Regular Season Win Total
Pac-12 South Odds
Pac-12 Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
*Odds updated live on our college football odds page
Even with last year’s poor showing, UCLA is an impressive 37-16 in head coach Jim Mora’s first 4 seasons. I look for the Bruins to make up for last year’s disappointments with a big 2016 campaign.
Even with all the losses on offense, it should be just as good, if not better. Rosen is the real deal and should make huge strides in year two. As for the defense, it has the makings of one of the best in the country if they can stay healthy.
Add in that favorable conference schedule and UCLA is my pick to win the Pac-12 South. I have them going 7-2 inside conference play and 9-3 overall. I do have them losing in the Pac-12 title game, so I don’t foresee them making the playoffs. Either way, the Bruins should be much better this season.
Win Total Prediction