How to Bet the LSU vs UCLA Week 1 Showdown

Chris Lollis  |  August 31, 2021

There are several high octane matchups in Week 1 of college football for sports bettors to try to exploit. One of the most intriguing games involves the PAC 12 and the SEC, with the LSU Tigers traveling to California to take on the UCLA Bruins. Both teams had below-average seasons in 2020 with LSU going 5-5 and UCLA finishing at 3-4.

Both Chip Kelly and Ed Orgeron are expecting a big bounceback year for their respective teams in 2021, so this should make for an outstanding football game. Kickoff is set for 8:30 EST at the iconic Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. We’ll preview each team’s offense and defense and also give out our best bet for this tremendous matchup.

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Current Line and Best Available Odds for LSU @ UCLA

Oddsmakers are expecting this game to possibly go down to the wire as LSU is favored by two and a half to three and a half points over UCLA. Most of the early action has been on the Bruins, as LSU opened at -4.5 and it has dropped steadily ever since.

Before putting any money down on this game, be sure to check out our free college football odds checker. This handy tool will help you quickly decipher where to get the best possible line, no matter what side you plan to bet on. Here’s a live look at the best point spread and total for LSU @ UCLA.

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What to Expect from the LSU Offense in Week 1

Sophomore Max Johnson will be under center for the Bruins this season after showing flashes of brilliance in 2020. The 6-5 219 pounder threw for 1,069 yards and eight touchdowns a year ago in only six games. Now that Johnson is a little more comfortable with the offense, he is poised for a big season in 2021.

LSU has two talented tailbacks in Tyrion Davis-Price and John Emery Jr. Both saw a significant amount of playing time in 2020 and both scored three rushing touchdowns.

The offensive line should create some nice holes for both backs to run through this year. Both guards, Ed Ingram and Chasen Hines, could be first or second-round draft choices next year. A key matchup to look out for will be the LSU O-line against the UCLA D-line.

The Tigers’ receiver room will definitely miss speedster Terrace Marshall Jr. this year. However, Kayshon Boutte should fill in nicely as the team’s #1 wideout. Boutte led the team in receiving yards a year ago with 735.

What to Expect from the UCLA Defense in Week 1

UCLA’s defensive line did a decent job of stopping the run last season (30th in rush yards per game allowed). Datona Jackson played in six games and had two and a half sacks a year ago.

Redshirt senior Mitchell Agude led the team with eight tackles for loss. The Bruins will need good performances from both Agude and Jackson to slow down the Tigers’ rushing attack.

The biggest question mark of this UCLA defense is their secondary. Last year’s unit was one of the worst in the country as they gave up 253.6 passing yards per game.

Even with those embarrassing numbers, the Bruins’ secondary should be much improved in 2021. Cameron Johnson transfers in from North Texas and he’ll start right away at the corner position. Qwuantrezz Knight is a true playmaker at the nickel back position and he’ll help slow down the Tigers’ receivers.

What to Expect from the UCLA Offense in Week 1

QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson put up some impressive numbers in 2020. The senior threw for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago and he also scored three times on the ground. DTR has a nice skillset and he’ll have to bring his “A” game against a hungry Tigers defense.

The UCLA running game was one of the best in the nation in 2020 and they could be even better in 2021. RB Brittain Brown averaged 6.6 yards per carry last season and the Bruins will need him to come up big against the Tigers’ stout defensive line. Also, expect Michigan transfer Zach Charbonnet to get a few carries to give Brown a rest at times.

DTR has some nice options to throw to down the field. Redshirt junior Kyle Phillips led the team in catches a year ago with 38. Kam Brown transfers in from Texas A&M and he’ll be a favorite target on deep patterns for DTR. Greg Dulcich, a 6-3 245 pound tight end, is a matchup nightmare and he caught five touchdowns in 2020.

What to Expect from the LSU Defense in Week 1

It was shocking to see LSU’s defense play so poorly in 2020. Last year’s squad gave up nearly 35 points per game and got shredded by several offenses. However, 2021 should be a different story as this unit has at least seven players with NFL potential.

Defensive end Ali Gaye led the team in tackles for loss in 2020 with 9.5. The Bruins may have a difficult time keeping him out of the backfield in this game. Andre Anthony plays the other end position and he led the team in sacks a year ago with 5.5.

Derek Stingley Jr. may be the best corner in all of college football. He didn’t get any interceptions last year because quarterbacks hardly ever throw in his direction. Strong safety Todd Harris Jr. does a solid job no matter what coverage he is in. The redshirt senior had 30 tackles and two picks a year ago.

Our Pick: UCLA +3

Though it’s usually the kiss of death to bet against a high-level SEC team, we think UCLA has enough juice to pull off the upset at home. This is Chip Kelly’s fourth year and he knows that it’s put up or shut up time.

UCLA also has the added benefit of already playing a game in Week 0. LSU may also be a bit out of sorts since they had to evacuate to Houston because of Hurricane Ida. Give us the Bruins plus the field goal in a tight one!

Chris Lollis

Chris has over a decade of experience in the DFS and sports betting industry. He was named the most accurate NFL DFS analyst each of the past two seasons by a third-party site tracking weekly picks. He covers the NFL, CFB, and sports betting legislation for EatWatchBet. @_chris_lollis

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