Will UCLA make the 4-team playoff?
LAS VEGAS, NV (The Spread) - Will the UCLA Bruins build off of their 2013 season and make the playoffs in 2014?
According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Bruins have 11/4 odds to make the four-team playoff in college football this year and odds of 2/9 to miss the postseason altogether. UCLA is also 16/1 to win the 2014-15 College Football FBS Championship, while Florida State remains favored at 11/2.
One of the strengths of this team is its quarterback, Brett Hundley, who is the key to the entire offense. He leads the team in both rushing and passing and if he stays healthy, he'll have this team competing for a Pac-12 title. The pass defense under head coach Jim Mora is also a strength, as cornerbacks Fabian Moreau and Ishmael Adams return, as do safeties Anthony Jefferson and Randall Goforth.
The biggest question marks remain the defensive line and pass protection. Ellis McCarthy returns at defensive end but the other two spots in the team's 3-4 will have new faces. Losing pass-rusher Anthony Barr to the NFL also hurts, so the pressure has been turned up on the front seven heading into the 2014 season.
The offensive line meanwhile, isn't a huge cause for concern with Simon Goines, Scott Quessenberry, Jake Brendel, Alex Redmond and Caleb Benenoch all returning. But this unit struggled mightily at times last year protecting Hundley, who at least is mobile. That said, if Hundley is going to take the next step as a passer then he's going to need better protection in the pocket.
Fortuntely for the Bruins, some of their biggest games this year come at home. They'll host Utah on October 4, Oregon on October 11, Arizona on November 1, USC on November 22 and Stanford on November 28. Their biggest road test doesn't come until Washington on November 8, although they do travel to Austin on September 13 for a non-conference tilt against Texas.