25th-ranked UCLA travels to Memphis for their second overall meeting with the Tigers. Even after a great comeback and a convincing whupping of Hawaii, the Bruins will have their hands full in Memphis, Tennessee at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium this Saturday. The game starts at noon EST and will be televised on ABC.
UCLA started with one of the most thrilling victories in years. After that win over Texas A&M and a blowout to follow, they go on the road with a noon start, which will be hard to adapt to coming from California.
But the school has rallied behind former hot-seat candidate head coach Jim Mora Jr. and Heisman hopeful QB Josh Rosen. He has a deep amount of talent behind him, enough to contend in the Pac-12 after going a dreadful 4-8 last season.
Memphis, meanwhile, was stalled out by the storm last weekend in Florida. With their cancellation against UCF, they were given another week of rest before their home contest vs. the Bruins. They outlasted Louisiana-Monroe 37-29 in their opening matchup.
They’re currently field goal underdogs against UCLA.
This has trap game written all over it. But don’t think for a second Rosen doesn’t know that. Taking that long trip to Memphis is a bit of an awkward one for the Bruins. We’ve seen good teams like Ole Miss go in there and get manhandled by the Tigers.
But Rosen is on too much of a march right now to crack against a defense who didn’t get a good measuring stick against UCF thanks to the weather cancellation. UCLA torched Texas A&M in the second half of their dramatic 45-44 win. It propelled them into the next week, and they now have 101 points in only two weeks.
Rosen has become the first-rounder everyone knew he had the potential to become. He has a 67.9% completion rate and nine td’s against no interceptions. UCLA has also taken baby steps with their running game. Their offensive line has given them bigger holes, and even though there hasn’t been much emphasis on the ground game, there’s enough of a thought there to keep Memphis guessing.
For the Tigers, QB Riley Ferguson was average at best against Louisiana-Monroe. He was one of the more promising QB’s in the AAC last season, but the running game was what stood out in Memphis’ first game. The two-headed monster of Patrick Taylor Jr. and Darrell Henderson at running back will do its damage, but the Bruins have the potential to put up way too many points.
Expect Rosen to not waver much, with another 350-400 yards to add to his season total. He’ll be up against a defense that was only average for most of last season, and one which gave up 48 (Ole Miss), 44 (Houston), and 42 (Navy) points to the only ranked teams it played.
Many are cautious jumping on the UCLA bandwagon, partially because they’re 5-11 ATS in their last 16 road games. Being 1-7 straight up in their last 8 road games definitely doesn’t help either. But Memphis is on a 1-5 stretch ATS at home and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 overall.
Something must give here. It’ll probably be the Tigers.