The UCLA Bruins have been recharged under head coach Jim Mora, winning 19 games and a division title over his first two seasons with the program.
They've also been making some good money, going 17-10 against the spread under Mora, including 6-2 ATS as double-digit favorites. UCLA falls into that category again when it opens this season with a cross-country trip to Charlottesville to take on the Virginia Cavaliers Saturday afternoon.
Point Spread: UCLA opened as 24-point favorites; the total was 58 at Scott Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark Computer Prediction: 38.9-13.7 Bruins
Why UCLA Can Cover the Spread
The Bruins come back loaded this year, with 17 starters back from a team that won 10 games last year. Nine starters are back on offense, including Heisman candidate QB Brett Hundley (24-9 TD-INT ratio, 700 yards rushing as a redshirt freshman last year) and four along the offensive line.
Hundley rates third currently in Heisman Trophy odds, so he is motivated to start quickly here to keep up with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.
And eight starters are back on defense, including LB Myles Jack and the entire secondary. UCLA is 8-4 both straight up and ATS on the road for Mora, and last year it won its opening road game at a ranked Nebraska by 20 points.
This team has big goals this season and is hoping to get off to a running start.
The Bruins face a Virginia squad that has been outscored 128-31 in its past three games against Pac-12 programs, according to the Odds Shark database.
Why Virginia Can Cover the Spread
The Cavaliers also have 17 starters back this year from a team that underachieved last season. Eight starters return on offense, including 1,000-yard rusher Kevin Parks and three along the offensive line, and nine starters are back on defense, including the entire back seven.
Virginia got blown out a few times last year, sure, but it also lost several games that had a chance to go either way.
The Cavs averaged just 20 points per game last year while giving up 33 PPG, but they have a good chance to improve on both of those figures this season.
UCLA comes in as the big favorite, with the big-time quarterback and the preseason hype, but it's a long trip from Southern California to the Commonwealth. Meanwhile, Virginia might be playing this season for head coach Mike London's job.
If the Cavs can get their running game going—they did average 157 yards per game on the ground last year—and get some stops on defense, they could make this one interesting. And despite an initial glance at this matchup, that seems possible. So the pick for this one is with the home dog.
- UCLA 6-1 SU, 5-2 ATS as road chalk since 2008
- UCLA 7-2 ATS past nine as double-digit favorites
- Virginia ended 2013 on nine-game losing skid
- Virginia outscored 128-31 past three games vs. Pac 12
- Virginia is 3-12-3 ATS in its last 18 games at home
All point-spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, and all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury updates and line-move updates, and get the free odds tracker app.