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Chip Kelly’s return to college football brought excitement to the UCLA Bruins campus, but it was short-lived. A 3-9 season brought frustrations, but we also saw signs of hope going forward. Now, they face a foe that gave them an 0-1 record to begin 2018. Cincinnati stunned everyone, including the Bruins. The emergence of both Desmond Ridder and Michael Warren along with a stout defense produced 11 wins. It will be tough to replicate that success, especially when trying to beat Kelly’s team two years in a row.
How to watch: ESPN
Start Time: 6:00pm CT
Line: Cincinnati -3
Location: Nippert Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)
UCLA Bruins to Watch
QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson
RB Joshua Kelley
WR Theo Howard
DE Osa Odighizuwa
CB Darnay Holmes
Cincinnati Bearcats to Watch
QB Desmond Ridder
RB Michael Warren II
DE Kevin Mouhon
CB Coby Bryant
S James Wiggins
Why UCLA wins
It seems almost inevitable that Chip Kelly returns to glory at some points. The UCLA Bruins know all too well how good Kelly’s teams can be when he was at Oregon. Fans are hoping that he can reproduce that winning formula for them. That lone gives fans hope that they can win. Game 1 produced a scoreboard that read Cincinnati Bearcats 26 UCLA Bruins 17 last year. That’s enough to drive the Bruins to a win this year, even if they aren’t the next Oregon.
Kelly’s offense is a skeleton of what he had in Eugene, but there’s promise. Former UC-Davis transfer Joshua Kelley came on late last year, and will run against a Bearcats front looking for four new starters. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson remains raw, but a quarterback that Kelly can mold. For once, the underdog is from the Pac-12, and they’ll have to bring everything they’ve got to beat the Bearcats.
Why Cincinnati wins
They did it last year, and they only gained chemistry as the season progressed. Ridder’s already on pace to be the best quarterback in the conference next year after just one season. Warren brings a physical running style and doesn’t shy away from contact. He rushed 35 times for 142 yards and three touchdowns last year, and only got better with more experience.
Simply put, Cincinnati’s the more talented and confident team heading into this game. UCLA has a chip on their shoulder, but the Bearcats are the favorites. They’re also the home team. Playing in front of what should be a good crowd gives Cincinnati the edge. If they dictate the style of play they want, they’ll control this game once again.
UCLA has been tabbed by many, including Champion Insiders, as a preseason hype team. Chip Kelly drives that train with his history at Oregon. Unfortunately, hype doesn’t win games, and Cincinnati’s definitely doesn’t care who coaches the Bruins. This one could be close if UCLA’s for real. CINCINNATI 34 UCLA 24