Pregame Guesses: Colorado Buffaloes at UCLA Bruins
The match-ups favor the Bruins in tomorrow's game. Will UCLA keep it simple and play to its strengths? Will the Bruins cover the spread?
After another disappointing loss, this time 44-24 to the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City, the UCLA Bruin football team (5-4, 3-3 Pac-12) returns to the Rose Bowl tomorrow night after an intervening bye week to host the Colorado Buffaloes (3-6, 2-4 Pac-12). The loss to Utah was eerily reminiscent of the 42-23 Arizona State loss earlier this season—the Bruins kept it close early, but were thoroughly outclassed in the latter stages of the game.
Now, the Bruins return home to face their old head coach Karl Dorrell. Coach Dorrell and the Buffs edged the Bruins last season in Boulder, 48-42. UCLA looks to return the favor tomorrow night in Pasadena.
Before The Mighty Bruin was started during the Spring of 2020 just as the pandemic hit the world, the team that started this blog wrote over at Bruins Nation. Initially, the writers of Bruins Nation were somewhat divisive with the UCLA fan UCLA base. But BN underwent a change in tone shortly before I began writing for the site. The change was spearheading by the editor of this blog, Joe, as well as a Bruin alumnus known as gbruin. In fact, gbruin continues to this day as a member of this community. gbruin used to write a weekly piece on Sunday morning that transcended UCLA football and was deeply introspective. It was brilliant writing and, in part, inspired me to began writing for BN and, now, The Mighty Bruin when gbruin asked me to help with baseball coverage all those years ago.
Why all this backstory? Well, gbruin lives in Colorado and, based on his years of service to this community, I decided that he deserves to pick this week’s music selection.
For years, gbruin has asked me in the comments to pick a song from one of his favorite bands, Alter Bridge. I am not as familiar with Alter Bridge’s catalogue as he is, so I let gbruin pick the song this week.
Alter Bridge was formed from the ashes of Creed with two former band members, lead guitarist Mark Tremonti and drummer Scott Phillips, wanting an edgier sound than Creed. At the get-go, Alter Bridge had issues with their label, who were not fans of the more alt-rock, less commercial sound and, instead, wanted Creed to reform. All of this resulted in the 2007 song “Brand New Start.” Take a listen.
The chorus could have been written about UCLA football today, especially given the wishes of a large portion of the fan base that the head coach be replaced:
We will make a brand new start
From the pieces torn apart
The break of day is before us
Cast your sorrows to the wind
Let the highway take us in
As we embrace the disorder
Fitting and poetic. Totally on point by gbruin, as always.
On to the guesses . . .
The obvious mismatch in favor of UCLA tomorrow is the Bruin rushing attack. Colorado is the 99th team in the nation against the run, allowing over 177 yards per game.
UCLA’s rushing attack is the 29th best team in the land, rushing for a tad under 200 yards per game. Junior Zach Charbonnet lead the Bruins with 797 rushing yards and he’s well on track to break the 1,000 yard barrier with three games to go. Senior Brittain Brown has 558 yards on the ground and Dorian Thompson Robinson has racked up 394 yards with his legs. Combined, the three have 20 rushing touchdowns. Both Charbonnet and Brown average almost six yards a carry.
Chip Kelly has a tendency to sometimes get too cute with his play calling. IMO, the Bruins do not need to do that tomorrow. Keep it simple. Run the ball down their throats and pass the ball to set up the run.
PREGAME GUESS NUMBER ONE: Predict the number of carries, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns for both Charbonnet and Brown. (Note: I realize that PGG this season has been heavy on UCLA rushing predictions. Sorry, but I had to go to the well one more time. This match-up was too juicy to ignore).
Colorado has the third worst offense in the nation, averaging only 266.7 yards per game. Only Southern Miss and New Mexico are worse. A major part of this is the Buffs’ passing offense, which averages only 134.8 yards per game, 126th out of 130 FBS teams. This bodes well for the UCLA defense, which is much, much better at defending the run than defending the pass—although the Bruins regressed in their rushing defense against Utah, completely unable to slow down the Ute rushing attack.
He should already be gone, but if Defensive Coordinator Jerry Azzinaro’s unit cannot figure out how to stop Colorado’s anemic offense, this should the the final nail in his coffin, the ultimate data point in favor of his firing. We’ll see.
PREGAME GUESS NUMBER TWO: Predict the number of yards Colorado gains on offense versus the Bruin defense. Break it down between rushing yards and passing yards.
Colorado has not won on the road this season. In fact, Colorado has not kept any of their three games close when playing away from Folsom Field in 2021. The Buffs lost to Arizona State, 35-13; to UC Berkeley, 26-3; and to Oregon, 52-29. That’s an average point differential of almost 23 points per game.
The geniuses in the Las Vegas sports books have the Buffaloes as 15-1/2 point underdogs to the Bruins on Saturday. Essentially, a touchdown less than the margins of loss for Colorado in their previous three road games. This seems low considering the obvious match-ups in UCLA’s favor on both sides of the ball, as highlighted in PGGs #1 and #2.
Still, it IS the Bruins, soooo . . . .
PREGAME GUESS NUMBER THREE: Will UCLA cover the spread? Predict the final score.
BONUS GUESS: Predict the attendance at the Rose Bowl tomorrow night. Home fans haven’t experienced a home win since LSU, well before classes even started. Will the Bruins’ poor results at home keep fans at home on their couches?
Week 10 of 12 of Pregames Guesses is in the books. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.