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How and what to watch for UCLA vs. Colorado

Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins hope to turn the corner in 2020, and the new-look Colorado Buffaloes present their first challenge of the season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 30 Cal at UCLA Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The last big fish of the Power Five joins the 2020 college football season this week. The Pac-12, which earlier in the year canceled fall sports due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, has rejoined the fray with a shortened, in-conference schedule.

While not every Pac-12 will take part in opening week, the UCLA Bruins will take on the Colorado Buffaloes in one of the conference’s prime-time game slots.

UCLA, now entering its third season under head coach Chip Kelly, has yet to turn the corner. The program has won just seven games over Kelly’s first two years in Los Angeles and continues to seek an identity on offense. Dual-threat quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson returns as the unit’s most dangerous player and comes off a season in which he threw for 2,701 yards, rushed for 198, and accounted for 25 total touchdowns. However, the junior signal-caller has to dramatically improve his ball security after tossing 12 interceptions a season ago.

How much Thompson-Robinson has developed since 2019 could well determine if UCLA can overcome its key losses. Running back Joshua Kelley, now a member of the Los Angeles Chargers, leaves the backfield primarily in the hands of Demetric Felton. A season ago, Felton served primarily as a pass catcher, hauling in 55 passes for 594 yards and four scores. He proved far less effective on the ground, turned 86 carries into just 331 yards (3.8 per attempt) and one touchdown. Still, Felton will receive the first chance to fill Kelley’s considerable shoes this Saturday.

Colorado has undergone a more considerable change since last season. The program saw the departure of head coach Mel Tucker to Michigan State as well as the graduation of longtime starting quarterback Steven Montez. Former Miami Dolphins assistant Karl Dorrell and converted safety Sam Noyer will fill those roles, respectively.

But while the Buffaloes have reasonably high expectation for their new head coach and quarterback, they understand that nothing will adequately account for the departure of do-everything wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. Shenault, now a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, gave the offense a weapon on par with the best playmakers in the nation. With him out of the picture, receivers K.D. Nixon and Dimitri Stanley will have to pick up the slack. The two combined for 777 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2019, just a hair off the 764 receiving yards and six touchdowns Shenault produced by himself that year.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

You can watch UCLA versus Colorado on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN 2, or you can stream it via WatchESPN with a cable or streaming service login.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: UCLA -7 vs. Colorado
Point Total: Over 55.5 (-112), Under 55.5 (-109)
Money line: UCLA (-245), Colorado (+195)

• UCLA has a 12-16-1 record against the spread as a road team since the start of 2015.

• Similarly, the Bruins have a mixed record with total points as a road time during that stretch, managing to hit the over 12 times, missing it on 14 occasions, and pushing three times.

• Since the start of the 2015 season, Colorado has a 13-16-1 home record against the spread.

• The Buffs have also hit the over 13 times and missed it on 17 occasions at home over the same period.

Betting splits

UCLA -7: (71% of handle, 50% percent of bets)
Colorado +7: (29% of handle, 50% percent of bets)

Over 55.5: (24% of handle, 72% percent of bets)
Under 55.5: (76% of handle, 28% percent of bets)

UCLA -245: (82% of handle, 51% percent of bets)
Colorado +195: (18% of handle, 49% percent of bets)

The Best Bet

No Pac-12 team has enjoyed an easy road back to the football field, and UCLA and Colorado have dealt with a considerable amount of issues and turnover. It seems likely that it will take some time before either finds its footing, especially on offense.

Pick: Under 55.5

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