Place College Football Pick on UCLA -20.5 vs. Virginia

Jeff Grant

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 12:47 PM GMT

The UCLA Bruins have enjoyed great success in season openers in recent years, which provides them an edge against the Virginia Cavaliers Saturday.

A Wealth of Talent
UCLA’s No. 7 preseason ranking is the program’s highest since before opening up the 1998 campaign, which is important to consider when looking over the Week 1 College Football odds, especially since it returns 18 total starters.

The Bruins are led by talented signal-caller Brett Hundley, who ranks third on the school’s all-time list with 7,858 yards of total offense, while Myles Jack became the first player in the history of the Pac-12 Conference to be selected both Freshman Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.

NCAA football handicappers must also respect the fact that the Bruins are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 season openers.

 

London Calling
There’s no question that Mike London is sitting on one of the hottest seats in the country, but it’s important to point out that he’s won all six of his season-openers over the course of his career as a head coach, including a perfect 4-0 mark at Virginia.

With that being said, the Cavaliers defeated Richmond (twice), William & Mary and BYU in that situation—winning the last one despite getting out-gained by a 362-223 margin.

The Cavaliers are also 74-19-7 SU in home season openers overall, and have won 17 of their last 20 lid lifters at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville.

 

Traveling Across the Country
The Bruins are certainly up against it in traveling across the country for their opener, but third-year head coach Jim Mora has put together a well thought out plan to help his roster, which includes leaving Southern California on Wednesday for Saturday’s early 12:00 p.m. ET kick.

UCLA is 17-13 SU all-time versus teams in the current Atlantic Coast Conference, as it prepares to face Virginia for the first time in school history, while its opponent has never defeated a Pac-12 squad in four opportunities.

 

Taking Care of the Football
The Cavaliers anticipate playing both Greyson Lambert and David Watford under center, with their No. 1 priority being to take care of the football, as the team’s minus-38 turnover margin since 2008 is the eighth-worst mark of its kind nationally.

Virginia would be smart to hand the football off to senior running back Kevin Parks early and often, considering he’s rushed for six career touchdowns in three season-opening games.  He sits seventh on the school’s all-time list in hitting pay dirt 25 times on the ground.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Bruins as one of their Week 1 College Football picks, as I developed a handicapper line favoring them by 23 points in this matchup.

UCLA is 7-1 SUATS in its last eight non-conference games, while Virginia is 4-4 SU and 2-6 ATS in that situation.

Free College Foobtall Pick: UCLA Bruins -20.5 at BetOnline

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