According To ESPN’s Football Power Index, UCLA Bruins Have One Of College Football’s Toughest Schedules

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN just recently released their football power index leading up to the college football season. The UCLA Bruins rank 40th in FPI, but their schedule ranks 12th, making it one of the toughest schedules (according to FPI) in College Football next season.

UCLA Bruins Rank 12th In FPI Toughest Schedule

If you have no idea what the football power index is, well you are probably not alone. We broke it down briefly in a previous article:

The Football Power Index (FPI) is ESPN’s cutting-edge rating system designed to predict the outcomes of football games and seasons with impressive accuracy. FPI gauges a team’s overall strength by analyzing its offensive, defensive, and special teams performance, all through the lens of expected points added (EPA). These ratings form the backbone of FPI’s game-by-game and season-long projections.

FPI is used in both the NFL and College Football, but in college football, each team’s performance is influenced by a unique set of factors. The four key elements that shape these assessments include data from the past four seasons (especially the most recent one), the number of returning starters on both offense and defense (with extra weight given to the quarterback), a yes/no factor indicating if the head coach is returning, and the strength of the team’s recruiting class (including transfers). College FPI relies heavily on these initial assessments because of the frequent mismatches in weekly games. These priors, adjusted for expected points added (EPA), ensure a balanced and competitive landscape where no single team holds overwhelming dominance.

Related: UCLA Football Gets Another Big Tight End Commitment

The ranking of 12th toughest schedule seems a tad high, but the 2024 campaign is certainly no cakewalk for UCLA.

The Bruins will face LSU at Tiger Stadium and have conference matchups between Oregon, Penn State, Iowa, Washington, and USC. The jump to the Big Ten alone is a factor in the schedule being tougher.

First-time head coach DeShaun Foster has a tough task ahead of him. The offense will see quite a few returning starters, plus some reinforcements from the transfer portal, but consistency will be the key as the offense as a whole was all over the place last season.

The defense is being completely rebuilt. Not only did the UCLA Bruins lose Laiatu Latu and the Murphy twins to the NFL Draft, but they lost their defensive coordinator to rival USC. There are still some nice pieces returning from last year, but the unit as a whole may be a work in progress during the transition to the Big Ten.

UCLA opens the season on August 31 against Hawaii. They get Indiana in Week 2 as their first conference opponent, and then really kick off the schedule in Week 3 against LSU in Death Valley.