No. 16 LSU travels to UCLA for an SEC-Pac-12 non-conference showdown on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
Game time is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on FOX.
LSU is looking to bounce back after a tough 5-5 season in 2020. Tigers coach Ed Orgeron hired two new coordinators in Jake Peetz and Daronte Jones. Max Johnson, who led an upset against Florida last season, takes over at quarterback. SN Preseason All-American Derek Stingley Jr. leads what needs to be an improved defense.
UCLA opened the season with a 44-10 victory against Hawaii to start Chip Kelly’s fourth season. Dorian Thompson-Robinson is an experienced quarterback, and a win against a perennial SEC contender would vault the Bruins into Pac-12 play with increased expectations.
Here’s everything to know about the LSU-UCLA matchup:
Odds courtesy FanDuel.com
LSU vs. UCLA odds
- Spread: LSU -2.5
- Over/under: 65.5
- Moneyline: LSU -192, UCLA +154
Three trends to know
— LSU is 16-2 SU and 10-7-1 ATS in non-conference games under Orgeron. The Tigers also are 9-6-1 as a road favorite in that stretch.
— UCLA is 2-5 ATS in non-conference games under Kelly and 1-6 SU. The Bruins also are 4-5-1 ATS as a home underdog.
— LSU has won 12 straight games against Pac-12 opponents, a streak that dates back to 1979. The Tigers are 4-0 all time at Pac-12 venues.
Three things to watch
— Max Johnson’s turn. Myles Brennan is out indefinitely after suffering an injury in fall camp, so it’s on Johnson to settle in with Peetz to revive the Tigers’ offense. Johnson showed command of the offense last season, and he finished with 1,069 yards, eight TDs and one interception in six games. Johnson should be able to connect with Kayshon Boutte, who averaged 16.3 yards per catch with five TDs last season.
— Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Robinson poses a dual-threat challenge for a new-look LSU defense; if he can be consistent in the passing game. The key early will be getting the running game going with redshirt senior Brittain Brown and Michigan transfer Zach Charbonnet, who combined for 184 yards and four TDs in the opener. The Tigers allowed 4.9 yards per carry last season, so UCLA can have success on the ground.
— LSU’s cornerbacks. The Tigers’ defense allowed 34.9 points per game last season, an eye-sore that led to the .500 season. Jones was brought on to clean up that defense, which gave up too many big plays in the passing game. Stingley is a first-round talent who should be selected with a top-10 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Eli Ricks is another All-American cornerback. Can LSU revive that defense around a stronger secondary?
Stat that matters
The Bruins and Tigers both allowed more than 400 yards per game last season. UCLA allowed 409.9 yards on 5.4 yards per play. LSU was worse; at 492 yards per play on 7.3 yards per play. Jones is new with the Tigers, but UCLA has a fourth-year defensive coordinator in Jerry Azzinaro. Both offenses should be able to have success, and this could morph into a shootout before halftime.
Will anybody get a stop early? That’s the big question. LSU also lacked a dominant running game last season, so look for Peetz to try to establish the tag team of Tyrion Davis-Price and John Emery Jr. early to get Johnson going. LSU should be able to hit a few big plays in the passing game, too. Thompson-Robinson will keep the Bruins within striking distance in a game where the over is within reach. The Tigers force three turnovers, however, and keep that Pac-12 streak going.
Final score: LSU 38, UCLA 27