Chip Kelly and the UCLA Bruins look to start the 2023 season with a win at the Rose Bowl as they host the visiting Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.
Coastal is no pushover, having won 31 games across its last three seasons in a tremendous run for the program, and star quarterback Grayson McCall will look to put on a show in Los Angeles.
McCall doesn’t play both sides of the ball, however, and can’t help fix a Chanticleers defense that looked utterly broken at times a year ago.
Despite a lot of new faces, UCLA’s offense looks primed for a successful day at the office in Week 1 according to the college football odds. Check out my best bet and full college football picks and predictions for Coastal Carolina vs. UCLA on Saturday, September 2.
Coastal Carolina vs UCLA best odds
Coastal Carolina vs UCLA picks and predictions
Coastal Carolina has been on a tremendous run across the last three years, sporting a 31-7 record while perennially being one of the Group of 5’s best teams. But the architect behind those teams is gone, as Jamey Chadwell took the head coaching gig at Liberty. Tim Beck arrives as the new skipper after spending the last three years as NC State’s offensive coordinator.
This team was all offense and no defense a year ago, and it’s likely going to be something similar in 2023. The Chanticleers ranked 111th in scoring defense, allowing 31.8 PPG despite not playing a Power 5 team all year long. Interestingly enough, they have faced only one Power 5 team during their three-year run — Kansas, whom they beat twice by a combined 43 points.
The Chants ranked 126th in EPA per Play last season and couldn’t stop teams on a down-to-down basis (102nd in Success Rate) or from picking up chunk yardage (121st in Explosiveness). The DL is a concern with only one returning starter, and the secondary loses its best cornerback and another impact contributor.
This Chip Kelly offense should run through the Chants' defense like a hot knife through butter.
The Bruins’ offensive attack looks much different in 2023, but they reload with a lot of incoming talent and should be lethal. TJ Harden and Carson Steele combine for a terrific 1-2 punch at running back behind an offensive line that led the country in Line Yards last year and returns its best two players and 126 career starts. The Bruins should pummel an undersized Chants defensive front that lost its star player, Josaiah Stewart, to Michigan via the portal.
This is probably the best receiving room we’ve seen at UCLA in a number of years. Cal transfer J. Michael Sturdivant will be playing on Sundays soon and will be the No. 1 target, while Kyle Ford, Kam Brown, and Titus Mokiao-Atimalala are nice complementary pieces.
Fourth-year player Ethan Garbers was named the starting quarterback but five-star true freshman Dante Moore will also see the field, as will rushing-threat Collin Schlee in certain packages.
I believe that playing multiple quarterbacks could be a good thing for the Bruins and for the total. Moore has the looks of a college-ready player, and if the Bruins do get out to a big lead, they will keep their foot on the gas in order to get him as many reps as possible to get him acclimated to this level.
UCLA has typically scored points with ease against non-Power 5 opponents, averaging 41.2 PPG across their last six such games since the start of 2021. The Bruins should find repeated success in this spot as even their backups look promising this season and should keep them in the end zone regardless if Coastal keeps this one competitive or not.
I’ll take UCLA’s team total Over as my best bet.
My best bet: UCLA Team Total Over 40.5 (-120 at DraftKings)
Coastal Carolina vs UCLA same-game parlay
This two-leg SGP involves taking both offenses to find success and eclipse their respective team totals in Week 1. It’s similar to making a full-game Over bet — but the odds are better.
I’ve explained UCLA’s team total above, so let me take a second to elaborate on why Coastal could exceed 23.5 points.
Beck takes over a Chanticleers team that has a ton of experience on offense led by star quarterback Grayson McCall, a three-time Sun Belt Player of the Year award winner. McCall has his top three receivers and running backs joining him in an offense that won’t be intimidated by a UCLA defense that ranked 99th in EPA per Play and 114th in Success Rate a year ago.
Expecting both offenses to come out of the gates on fire is always dicey in Week 1, but there’s strong reason to expect points. Coastal has a veteran offense and has been waiting to prove itself against tougher competition for over three years, UCLA ranked second in Success Rate offensively a year ago and retooled nicely, and both defenses have a ton to prove.
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Coastal Carolina vs UCLA spread and Over/Under analysis
The Chanticleers have taken a little bit of money, moving from +16 at open to +14.5 at current. The Over has also received some love, moving from 64.5 at open to 66.5 at current. Be sure to shop around using our college football odds tool as there is variation in the total — some books are offering 65.5, while others are offering 66.5.
This spread is a difficult read for me, as Coastal is very experienced offensively but the coaching staff is very green. This is Beck’s first head coaching gig, and I didn’t rate him very highly as an offensive coordinator. Travis Trickett does look like a promising hire at offensive coordinator, while Craig Naivar will be in his first year as defensive coordinator at this level.
Beck will have a number of key pieces to work with, including McCall, who briefly entered the transfer portal. He took a number of visits with high-level programs, and it’s rumored that the only reason he didn’t arrive at one of those schools has more to do with credits and the classroom than it does his ability to play football. Simply put, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the country and has won three straight Sun Belt Player of the Year awards.
I’m confident in UCLA putting points on the board and that does have me leaning toward the full-game Over. There’s uncertainty with the new scheme in town for Coastal and the loss of a program savior like Chadwell, but McCall is no slouch and isn’t facing a scary defense. Catching this many points with McCall makes it hard for me to lean anywhere other than the Chants against the spread, but the totals are where I’d prefer to allocate my investments.
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Coastal Carolina vs UCLA betting trend to know
UCLA has hit its team total Over in six of its last eight games for a 40% ROI. Find more college football betting trends for Coastal Carolina vs UCLA.
Coastal Carolina vs UCLA game info
|Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
|Saturday, September 2, 2023
|10:30 p.m. ET
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