NCAAF Picks: Week 1 Preview, UCLA Bruins vs. Virginia Cavaliers

Thursday, July 10, 2014 1:29 PM UTC

Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014 1:29 PM UTC

The UCLA Bruins are expected to contend for a national title this season, but they land in a difficult situational spot out of the gate in taking on the Virginia Cavaliers next month. Let’s take a closer look at the college football odds for this Pac-12 versus ACC matchup at Scott Stadium, with the opening kick scheduled for 12:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

Lofty expectations
UCLA is one of the betting favorites at odds of +1791 to win the 2015 NCAA football championship game, but it will face a difficult situational matchup out of the gate in this affair, considering West Coast schools always have a difficult time preparing for an early start time when traveling across the country.

The Bruins are also a mediocre 4-5 SU in regular season road games versus non-conference opponents since 2006.

Third-year head coach Jim Mora has definitely developed a different culture in Westwood, considering the fan base is no longer happy in simply beating crosstown rival USC, especially with 17 starters returning.

Hot seat in Charlottesville
Virginia figures to be a dangerous home underdog during the 2014-15 campaign, as it also welcomes back 17 starters, with fifth-year head coach Mike London desperately needing a successful campaign to keep his day job.

The Cavaliers have captured nine of their last 11 openers at this venue, but they’ve compiled a 4-8-1 against-the-spread (ATS) record when getting points in front of its fans.

London may benefit greatly in standing by his offensive and defensive coordinators, as both Steve Fairchild and Jon Tenuta begin their second season in those respective roles.

Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley is a legitimate 2014 Heisman Trophy contender, as he ranks third in school history with 7,914 yards of total offense and 53 touchdown passes.

UCLA is certainly capable of covering this number if he comes out of the gate performing at a high level, especially with the emergence of senior running back Jordon James, who finished behind him with 534 yards on the ground a year ago.

Senior-laden roster
In looking back at the 2013 campaign, the Cavaliers failed in trying to meet some of their goals as a program, but it’s important to point out that London had just nine seniors on the roster.

All eyes will be on senior running back Kevin Parks this season, as he comes off a 1,031-yard campaign and 11 touchdowns, while two signal-callers return that gained valuable experience a year ago.

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Cavaliers as one of their Week 1 college football picks, as the Bruins will find it difficult to maintain focus for 60 minutes in this affair, with their home opener and a neutral-site matchup against the Texas Longhorns on deck.
Pick:  Virginia Cavaliers +24

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