Hawaii vs. UCLA Week 1 Betting Odds, Picks, and Trends


The 2021 college football season is finally here as opening weekend kicks off this Saturday. Five games highlight a slate with unique regional matchups. A fun West Coast battle features the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and the UCLA Bruins.

Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins have high expectations. This is suddenly a veteran roster with momentum after finding a clear answer at quarterback. They host a Hawaii team that’s rebuilding their offense after a mediocre 2020 season.

We’re breaking down how Hawaii and UCLA matchup in this opening weekend showdown. We have two great picks to start the season off on the right foot. Let’s dive in.

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Hawaii at UCLA (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday)

(UCLA -17, O/U 69.5, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Hawaii offense vs. UCLA defense

The Hawaii offense returns several key players from a fun and moderately effective spread offense system under Todd Graham. Although they return only 55% of their 2020 production, that number is misleading in the details. Leading tailback Miles Reed is gone, but the team’s top playmakers elsewhere are back.

Sophomore quarterback Chevan Cordeiro headlines the group and he’s joined by playmaker extraordinaire Calvin Turner Jr. and stud freshman rusher Dae Dae Hunter. The receiving corps is young outside of Turner and senior Jared Smart, but this system continues to find productive players with ease. The biggest question is whether the inexperience will show in Week 1 against an impressive opponent on the road.

Last year’s team was mediocre across the board on offense against Mountain West Teams. Can they step up?

The offensive line will certainly be under the microscope. With three seniors and two juniors starting, the expectations should be high. But UCLA has a plethora of talented defensive forces ready to prove themselves.

UCLA lost a key defender in Osa Odighizuwa but returned almost everyone else. In fact, only other team in the country is bringing more 2020 total production back. This has proven to be incredibly valuable over the several years when betting on games within the first three weeks of the season. 

Virtually every position is starting or featuring a rotation of a senior or graduate transfer. This unit is terrific against the run and should see improvement against passing games thanks to experience. Someone must emerge as a pass-rusher, but Kelly’s defenses have boded well throughout his career.

The Bruins will give up a lot of yards through the air but bend without breaking. Hawaii will look good until they suddenly don’t because the field has shrunk. Their volatile outcomes in 2020 were a result of this.

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UCLA offense vs. Hawaii defense

There’s so much to love about Kelly’s offense in 2021. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is a budding star, and the rest of the 2020 offense sans Demetric Felton is back. The team is loaded at the playmaker positions and finally has the trench talent to overtake games with a great offense.

This premier rushing attack will give Hawaii tremendous fits. UCLA ranked 13th in the nation last year in rushing, and Hawaii allowed the 108th-most yards on the ground. Hawaii’s defense will be exhausted by the end of this contest.

The combination of UCLA’s rushing dominance and the big-play receiving potential of tight end Greg Dulcich, transfer receiver Kam Brown, and speedster Delon Hurt will be enough for the Bruins to pull away as the game progresses. Hawaii simply doesn’t have the size or speed to win the individual matchups that are necessary.


This is a big line. Usually I’d stay away from so many points, but I’ve been bullish on UCLA all offseason, and this isn’t the time to fade them. I think they come out strong in this game and roll Hawaii in a comfortable win. 

I’m taking UCLA to cover, but under on the total. Hawaii won’t score with UCLA enough to hit 70 points. 

Our picks: UCLA -17 (-110) and Under 69.5 (-120) at DraftKings Sportsbook

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