The LSU Tigers will take on the UCLA Bruins in the first full week of college football action on Saturday night. It's time to continue our college football odds series and make a LSU-UCLA prediction and pick.
The Tigers enter this season with the high expectations that usually come with being a top-tier program. After a disappointing season in 2020, head coach Ed Orgeron has restocked his squad with elite talent, and any season that doesn't end with SEC title contention will be considered a disappointment.
Surprisingly, the Bruins actually have the players necessary to match up to LSU. Head coach Chip Kelly's unit is loaded with talent, and they showed off their ability in a Week Zero matchup against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. UCLA dropped 44 points in their season opener, and they could've put up more points if they needed to. The Bruins should be in contention for the Pac-12 title for the first time in the Kelly era, and this game will be a huge indicator of how good UCLA really is.
Here's how the bookmakers have set the LSU-UCLA odds for Saturday's game.
College Football Odds: LSU-UCLA Odds
LSU Tigers -2 1/2 (-120)
UCLA Bruins +2 1/2 (+100)
Over 65 points (+100)
Under 65 points (-120)
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Why LSU Could Cover The Spread
If the Tigers want to win this game, the defense will have to show up in a big way. Luckily for them, the defense should improve in a big way from last season. The cornerbacks are the backbone of this unit, led by star Derek Stingley Jr. and the emerging Eli Ricks. Both players should perform at an elite level and help form one of the best secondaries in the nation. That duo should completely stifle a UCLA passing attack that racked up only 148 yards through the air last week. Defensive linemen Ali Gaye and Glen Logan will anchor a strong front seven that should have no trouble getting to the quarterback against any opponent.
LSU's offense won't be able to keep up if this game turns into a track meet, but they're more than capable of putting up their fair share of points. Quarterback Max Johnson will take the reins in his first year as a starter, and he's surrounded with a supporting cast that should make most quarterbacks envious. Wide receiver Kayshon Boutte should continue the recent string of elite Tigers receivers, while Tre Palmer and Koy Moore fill out the depth chart behind him. This unit won't be a dominant one, but they should be able to pull their weight against a questionable UCLA defense.
Why UCLA Could Cover The Spread
The Bruins make their money on offense, and that's not going to change in this game. Almost all of the scoring was done by the ground game last week, as UCLA rode their veteran offensive line to 252 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground. The Tigers allowed 4.9 yards per carry and 169 rushing yards per game last season, so that area of their defense is clearly a weakness. The Bruins have already shown that they can run the ball effectively, and they should be able to prove that again against LSU.
Head coach Chip Kelly isn't known for his defenses, but he may have a decent one this year. In the opener against Hawaii, the Bruins allowed only 283 total yards to a Rainbow Warriors offense that is better than many people give them credit for. UCLA managed to hold Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro to a completion percentage just above 50%, all while picking him off twice. This unit should have some success against a hugely inexperienced LSU offense.
Final LSU-UCLA Prediction & Pick
It may be surprising to see the Tigers set as such slim favorites over UCLA, but it makes sense in this matchup. The Bruins have LSU outmatched on offense, and the defense isn't far behind either. UCLA is clearly the right pick here, as there are too many question marks throughout the Tigers' roster. Lock in the Bruins to cover or to win. Both should cash.
FINAL LSU-UCLA PICK: UCLA Bruins +2 1/2 (+100)