UCLA vs. Cincinnati fearless prediction and game preview.
Date: Thursday, August 29
Game Time: 7:00 ET
Venue: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
UCLA (0-0) vs. Cincinnati (0-0) Game Preview
It was a shocker to kick off last season and the beginning of the Chip Kelly era at UCLA. Beating Cincinnati was supposed to be a given, but it was a rough offensive performance by the Bruins – and a great day from the Bearcat D – in a 26-17 win by the American Athletic Conference team.
This time around, Cincinnati not only gets to host an improved UCLA team to kick things off, but it has to go deal with Ohio State up the road, and then deal with the always-interesting rivalry game against Miami University.
It doesn’t get a whole lot easier for the Bruins after this, dealing with a nasty San Diego State team to follow, and then Oklahoma comes to LA, and then the Pac-12 season kicks off at Washington State.
Kelly’s team needs this.
Why UCLA Will Win
It’s going to be a different and more effective – at least, more experienced – offense this time around.
In last year’s opener against the Bearcats, QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson was a true freshman being thrown into the mix. RB Joshua Kelley only ran six times for 20 yards, and the line was a major problem out of the box.
The starters on the line return, Kelley is a star, the receiving corps is loaded, and no matter how the quarterback situation finally shakes out, at least Thompson-Robinson is a veteran option.
As good as the UC D should be, the line is the one area that might need a little bit of time. If the UCLA offense front can come out firing and give the skill guys time to work, expect a whole lot more than the 306 total yards of offense the Bruins generated in last year’s loss.
Why Cincinnati Will Win
So how did the Bearcats get it done in last year’s win over the Bruins? Michael Warren ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns as he and the offense control the clock for well over 34 minutes. Is the UCLA run defense appreciably better?
There’s size up front for the Bruins, but it’s still a young group that has to prove it can hold up and stop someone from pounding away – and that’s after playing a schedule full of teams that weren’t exactly Wisconsin running the ball.
There might be a whole slew of new starters on the Cincinnati offensive front, but the skill spots are loaded, the running back depth is in place, and QB Desmond Ridder is a veteran now.
This group won 11 games last year, including a bowl game over Virginia Tech after starting out with a win over UCLA – UC won’t be fazed by a Pac-12 team coming into its house.
What’s Going To Happen
Cincinnati will get off to a hot start and look and play the part of an AAC star, but the UCLA offense will kick in late in the first half and in the third quarter to take control of the game.
It’s going to be a fight, but the Bruins will pull away late with two explosive touchdown drives to get out of the dangerous road date alive. Cincinnati will have its chances, but it won’t be able to come through in the key moments to pull off a second straight win over the Bruins.
Fearless Prediction & Line
UCLA 30, Cincinnati 23
Line: Cincinnati -3, o/u: 60.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3
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