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Free Pick: Hawaii at UCLA
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Free Pick: Hawaii at UCLA

The Pac-12 Bruins come in as a solid 17.5 point favorite over the Rainbows from Hawaii. This game could end up being a shootout between two high-powered offenses. Let’s break it down.

Quarterback: Both teams have experienced players back at this very important position. Dorian Thompson-Robinson is in his 4th year of starting for UCLA and has shown marked improvement each year. Chevan Cordeiro is no slouch and can make plays also. ADVANTAGE: UCLA

Running Back: Both teams have dual threats at running back and both can make breakaway plays. ADVANTAGE: NEITHER

Receivers: UCLA appears to have an edge here with weapons and more experience. ADVANTAGE: UCLA

Offensive Line: All five starters return for the Bruins compared to four for the Rainbows. ADVANTAGE: UCLA (slight edge)

Defensive Line: Hawaii brought in several transfers through the portal and should be improved. UCLA is unproven. ADVANTAGE: HAWAII

Linebackers: Darius Mussau was fifth in the nation in tackles in 2020 and he is back for the Rainbows. ADVANTAGE: HAWAII

Secondary: The Bruins have all 4 starters back and all are seniors. ADVANTAGE: UCLA

Summary from Coach Papa Dude: This has shootout written all over it and the key is which team can get the most stops. UCLA was close to being 5-2 last year but couldn’t get those defensive stops when they had to have them in games with Oregon (38-35 loss), USC (43-38 loss), and Stanford (48-47 loss in two overtimes). Has their defense improved enough to stop a pretty good Hawaii offense enough times to cover the spread?

The Bet: UCLA (-17.5) but I’ve got the yellow caution light out for this one.

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