The LSU Tigers will look to get their season off to a strong start when they head to the Rose Bowl to take on the UCLA Bruins. The Tigers had a disappointing season last year but come into this one as road favorites. They will need to be careful however because their opponents, the UCLA Bruins have some talent on offense that should make this one interesting.
LSU Tigers vs. UCLA Bruins
Saturday, September 04, 2021 – 08:30 PM EDT at Rose Bowl
LSU Looking to Bounce Back After Poor Season
After winning a national championship in 2019, it was to be expected that there would be some regression last year after the amount of talent they lost to the pros. The problem is, they are still LSU and came into the season as defending national champions which means there is a certain level that still needs to be maintained to satisfy their rabid fan base. Last year's team fell way below that level so it is imperative that the Tigers get off to a strong start this season.
Their first test will come against UCLA who does have some talent on offense but has not been able to get consistent play from the quarterback position. That was certainly an issue for LSU last year, who's passing offense took a massive hit with the departure of Joe Burrow who looked like a veteran quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals before his rookie season was cut short due to injury.
The line for this game opened at -4.5 but action on UCLA has the Tigers as -3 favorites with the total at 65 according to the latest information on NCAAF odds at BMR. In my opinion, LSU might be slightly underrated in this spot. They do come into the game ranked in the top 25 (16) but I think they might be slightly undervalued here.
We'll get to UCLA in a moment but the thing that makes LSU strong is their defense which has the potential to be elite. While they do have weakness at slot corner, their starting corner duo of Derrick Stingley Jr and Eli Ricks more than make up for that. The Tigers might have the best cornerback duo in the nation. On top of that, they've added Mike Jones Jr via transfer from Clemson who happens to be one of the best coverage linebackers in college football.
UCLA Needs Consistent QB Play
For the Bruins to improve on another disappointing season in the Chip Kelly era, they will need a lot more consistency from their quarterback. The man tasked with that job once again is Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The former top 40 recruit out of high school, Thompson-Robinson has failed to find consistency at the college level. While Bruins fans hope he can figure things out this season, in terms of what he has around him, the Bruins can at the very least, improve on what we've seen from them in recent years if Thompson-Robinson can put things together.
The Bruins have one of the best receiving groups in the Pac-12 starting with Kyle Phillips who has been one of the best in the conference for a few years now. They also have two very good tight ends in Greg Dulcich and Mike Martinez who is a physically dominant player. The Bruins also have some pretty good offensive linemen who can open up holes for a rushing attack that has potential.
That brings me to Chip Kelly who at this point, has to be on the hot seat. I can't imagine him surviving another subpar season. It seems like an eternity ago that Kelly was the hottest name in the coaching world. If he doesn't get this group to fulfill their potential and improve on what we've seen since he's come to town, he might be looking for a new job after this season.
The main reason I'm laying the points with LSU here is UCLA quarterback Thompson-Robinson. The Bruins already have a game under their belt, a 44-10 win against Hawaii. While the final score was impressive for the Bruins, that was achieved despite their quarterback, not because of him. He was missing throws left and right even though he had no real pressure. UCLA was up 24-3 by the end of the first quarter so really, Thompson-Robinson could have used that game as preparation for this week.
If the Bruins can't get things going on the run, which is very possible against a good LSU front seven, Thompson-Robinson could be in for a very long afternoon. Remember, the strength of this LSU team is their defense, especially at corner which is bad news for a very inconsistent quarterback like Thompson-Robinson. He's the main reason I'm laying points with LSU on the road in this spot.
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