College Football Odds: If Josh Rosen Healthy, UCLA Will Get Payback Vs. Texas A&M Week 1

josh rosen ucla

Matthew Jordan

Monday, June 19, 2017 7:19 PM GMT

One of the most intriguing games of the opening weekend of the 2017 college football season is Sunday, Sept. 3, when Texas A&M visits UCLA. Both head coaches enter the year on the hot seat, meaning the loser’s will only get warmer.

Texas A&M At UCLA

Recently, I previewed Notre Dame’s coming season on the gridiron and how Coach Brian Kelly likely must win at least 8 games to save his job. Joining Kelly on the list of guys coaching for their jobs at marquee programs in 2017 would be UCLA’s Jim Mora Jr. and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin. Those two schools meet on Sunday, Sept. 3, at the Rose Bowl to kick off their seasons. The game will be televised by Fox and the Bruins are currently 3.5-point favorites.

It’s the second straight year they open against one another. Last Sept. 3 in College Station, No. 16 UCLA was a 5-point underdog and lost 31-24 in overtime. Trevor Knight threw for 239 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores, including the winning 1-yarder in OT on fourth down for the Aggies. The Bruins reached the A&M 5 on their OT possession, but Josh Rosen’s passes on third and fourth down were incomplete. He threw for 343 yards and a touchdown but was picked off three times.

Rosen was considered a Heisman Trophy candidate last year after breaking several school records as a freshman, but he was limited to six games due to a shoulder injury. The Bruins would go 1-5 without him and finish at 4-8, the program’s worst mark since 2008. Hence Mora’s hot seat.

Texas A&M has a habit of starting strong under Sumlin but then fading late, and it’s starting to look like that 11-2 season in 2012, A&M’s first in the SEC, was a bit of a fluke and largely due to the brilliance of that year’s Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel. The Aggies haven’t approached 11 wins since and finished 8-5 in 2017 for the third straight season. Both UCLA and Texas A&M – more so A&M – would be very coveted jobs if they came open.

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A&M Hasn’t Settled On Starting QB

Texas A&M returns only 12 starters and Sumlin’s biggest question entering fall camp is at quarterback with Knight gone. Frankly, Sumlin has had QB issues ever since Manziel left, with a few five-star recruits transferring out of College Station. The starter this year figures to be either senior Jake Hubenak or dual-threat true freshman Kellen Mond. Hubenak saw some time last year and started two games, completing 61 of 104 passes for six TDs and two picks, but he’s not mobile at all. None of the Aggies’ QBs were very good in the spring game.

Three of the Aggies’ top four receivers from the 2016 season are gone, with Josh Reynolds, Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil combining for 108 receptions, 1,697 yards and 15 touchdowns. Defensively, the biggest loss was defensive end Myles Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.  Texas A&M has a win total of 7 at 5Dimes; if the Aggies only win seven regular-season games, Sumlin’s a goner.

Mora is set to return 15 starters led by Rosen, who has the talent to be the No. 1 overall pick next year. He had shoulder surgery in November. The offense vastly underachieved in 2016 as UCLA finished 91st in the FBS in total offense (379.8 ypg) and tied for 95th in scoring (24.9 ppg). That led to the firing of offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu. The Bruins used a spread offense in 2015 under Noel Mazzone – now Texas A&M’s offensive coordinator -- and shifted to a pro-style look under Polamalu last year.

Polamalu has been replaced by Jedd Fisch, who was Michigan’s passing game coordinator the past two years. Fisch also had been an offensive coordinator with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the University of Miami. While job No. 1 is ensuring Rosen is healthy, No. 2 would be to fix a running game that was second-worst in the country last year. Defensively, the secondary should be one of the Pac 12’s best led by safeties Jaleel Wadood and Adarius Pickett. UCLA has a win total of 6.5 on college football odds.

I’m giving the points on my college football pick here because UCLA is at home and has potentially one of the country’s best quarterbacks, while A&M has only questions there. The Aggies are 0-4 ATS in their past four road games.

Free College Football Pick: UCLA -3.5Best Line Offered: 5Dimes