NCAA Football Free Pick: Texas A&M Plus the Points at UCLA

Texas A&M

Willie Bee

Thursday, July 13, 2017 1:18 PM GMT

Among the more crucial Week 1 games is the SEC/Pac-12 clash between Texas A&M and UCLA, and we have a free college football pick for the Rose Bowl matchup.

On the surface, it looks like just another early matchup of Power 5 schools when the Texas A&M Aggies visit the UCLA Bruins in Week 1. Did a little deeper, however, and the matchup could be one of the most important games of the season for both teams and potentially mean the difference between a New Year’s Six invite, if all things go right, or an appearance in the Liberty and Sun Bowls.

This clash between SEC and Pac-12 squads helps put the first week of the campaign to bed on Sunday, September 3. The big FOX will televise the affair beginning at 7:30 PM (ET) from the famed Rose Bowl, and Bookmaker has UCLA laying 3 points at home with signs the spread could grow a little before kickoff.

 

Teams Share Similar Expectations In Preseason Odds

None of the early and unofficial preseason rankings include either the Aggies or Bruins in their top 25. A win in this matchup could vault the victor into the AP or coaches group, and might serve as a springboard for more than what the college football futures suggest.

On the national championship front, UCLA and Texas A&M are listed in the 50/1 to 75/1 range at various shops, so we shouldn’t expect to see either school heading to the College Football Playoffs. They also share similar numbers to win their conferences and similar win totals. Both the Aggies and Bruins are fetching around a 10/1 return to take home the SEC and Pac-12 titles, respectively, and each is carrying a 7-7½ win total. Getting ‘over’ the latter number could very well depend on who wins this battle.

It’s the second straight year the schools have met in their season opener, A&M pulling off a 31-24 overtime win in College Station last September as 5 point favorite on the NCAA odds, the final pushing a 55 point total. The win gave the Aggies a 3-2 lead in the all-time series that dates back to 1940, one of UCLA’s victories a 29-23 decision at the 1998 Cotton Bowl.

 Will Rosen Finally Have Big Year Leading Bruins?

That victory catapulted the Aggies to a 6-0 start and covers in their first four games. Then, as has become the norm, Texas A&M went into a nosedive with just two wins the final seven games while going 0-9 against the spread after September. The Aggies lost a lot from their receiver corps, but do get Christian Kirk back plus have a strong running back tandem in Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford. Quarterback is unsettled with Jake Hubenak being pushed by redshirt freshman Nick Starkell and true frosh Kellen Mond.

The Bruins don’t have much QB controversy, unless Josh Rosen isn’t fully recovered from his shoulder injury. What is unsettled is the offensive line after center Scott Quessenberry, plus who gets the starting tailback job between Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi. Improving the ground game is a must if UCLA is going to contend in the Pac-12.

We’ll have a better idea of this game once both teams go through their summer practices and answer a few of the depth chart questions each has. I believe the spread will go up to 3½ in the week leading up to the kickoff, but am willing to take the Aggies and 3 for my free college football pick now.

Free College Football Pick: Texas A&M +3 (+100) Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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