The UCLA Bruins clash with the Cincinnati Bearcats in a rematch of last year’s season opener. Cincinnati beat UCLA 26-17 on September 1, 2018 at the Rose Bowl. The loss was part of UCLA’s 0–5 start in Chip Kelly‘s first season with the team while Cincinnati opened the season 6-0.
UCLA Bruins vs. Cincinnati Bearcats
Thursday, August 29 at 7:00 PM ET
*All odds and betting info courtesy of OddsShark and originally posted by Bookmaker
- UCLA vs. Cincinnati (-2.5 at -115)
- Over/Under: 58
UCLA was just 3–9 last season but they will have nine starters back on offense while their defense brings back 10 starters, so they expect to have a better showing.
A difference from last year’s season opener is the emergence of running back Joshua Kelley. He ran for just 20 yards on six carries before being pulled off the game and he became the team’s workhorse once Pac-12 play started. Kelley finished the season with 1,243 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 225 carries in 11 games.
Michigan transfer Wilton Speight reaggravated an injury against Cincinnati last year and sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson took over for him and started much of the first half of the season. A shoulder injury in October cost him the position but he is expected to run the offense this year.
Cincinnati went 11–2 last season and their defense, which was among the best in the country, will have invaluable experience and plenty of room for improvement this year. Offensively, Michael Warren II is one of their players to watch, he ran for 1,329 yards and 19 touchdowns in 12 games last season, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He was a difference-maker against UCLA last year, rushing for 142 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries while catching three passes for 29 yards.
Last season Warren complemented then-freshman quarterback Desmond Ridder, who threw for 2,445 yards and 20 touchdowns with just five interceptions in 13 games. He replaced Hayden Moore in the win against UCLA and completed 13 of 24 passes for 100 yards.
Trends and Prediction
The UCLA Bruins are:
- 6-13 ATS in their last 19 road games
- 2-10 ATS in their last 12 non-conference games
- 1-5 ATS in their last six games on FieldTurf
Both teams headed in opposite directions last season but they have reasons for optimism this year. Cincinnati brings back exciting playmakers on offense and seven starters of an already outstanding defense; look for this team to challenge UCF in the American Athletic Conference.
The UCLA defense is as talented as almost any in the Pac-12 but they have question marks on offense, which is not ideal when facing a defense like Cincinnati’s.
Pick: Cincinnati -2.5