It’s fitting that in what has turned out to be the year of the Sun Belt that UCLA struggled with South Alabama last week. The Bruins needed a last-second field goal to edge the Jaguars by one point in a 32-31 win, and that was with some help from the Jags with what turned out to be an ill-advised fake field goal attempt.
Combined with the fact that the Bruins fell behind 17-7 to Bowling Green in week 1, the Bruins’ non-conference play does not exactly inspire confidence heading into the Pac-12 schedule. (Neither does the alarming lack of attendance at the Rose Bowl, but that’s a topic for another article.)
But the good news is that UCLA is 3-0, and that’s an excellent place to be through three weeks of play. They’ll kick off their Pac-12 schedule by heading to Colorado to face the Buffaloes, and the two teams seem to be headed in opposite directions. Colorado is 0-3 on the year, and they’ve been outscored 128-30 in the process. Those losses have come at the hands of TCU, Minnesota, and Air Force. Not exactly college football powerhouses. Colorado doesn’t play offense well, and they don’t play defense well. Up to this point, they haven’t done anything particularly well.
UCLA vs Colorado
The last time UCLA went to Colorado was week 1 of the 2020 pandemic-shortened season. The Bruins lost 42-48. The now graduated Sam Noyer played very well at quarterback for the Buffs, and UCLA was a mess. But things have changed since then. Though Colorado got off to a good start under Karl Dorell, going 4-2 during the 2020 season, things have gone downhill since. They went 4-8 in 2021 and have now started this year from 0-3.
After last week’s loss to Minnesota, Colorado athletic director Rick George sent out a weird statement via tweet that didn’t really say anything about his intentions for the future of the program under Dorrell. Make of that what you will, but it doesn’t seem like a program that’s in a particularly good place.
All this sets up well for a UCLA win, but you never know with these guys. Chip Kelly seems to have at least one game a year where he loses a winnable game and wins as an underdog. His Bruins can be tough to predict. I certainly wouldn’t be shocked if there was an upset. Winless teams tend to have an extra chip on their shoulder.
Having said that, the disparity in these programs seems too big for Colorado to overcome unless something goes massively wrong for the Bruins. I don’t know how good UCLA will look, but they should be able to put together enough for the win.