The LSU Tigers have done a lot of neat things over the course of their program’s history. They have never played out in Pasadena, however. That will remain a truth only for less than 24 hours from now. The Bayou Bengals are making their first-ever trip to the Rose Bowl for what’ll be a fascinating clash with the UCLA Bruins. This Pac-12-SEC collision brings about a lot of intrigue, especially for two teams who aren’t necessarily National Championship contenders this year. If nothing else, this is a scene you will surely not want to miss for aesthetically pleasing reasons.
How to watch LSU vs. UCLA
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Watch Online: FOX Sports App
Key Players to Watch
Kayshon Boutte: LSU has had a litany of great receivers come through the program over the years. Kayshon Boutte might be the next in line. The former five-star recruit comes in on the heels of a strong freshman season. He caught 45 passes for 735 yards and found the end zone five times. This all came through just a 10-game season where quarterback play was pretty enigmatic. While Myles Brennan is out indefinitely after a shoulder injury, whoever it is that gets the start for LSU will likely be targeting Boutte a lot. UCLA’s pass defense was atrocious last year, so Boutte might be in for a big game.
Zach Charbonnet: The Michigan Wolverines transfer had an incredible start to the 2021 season. Charbonnet carried the ball just six times, but amassed 106 yards and scored three touchdowns in the win over Hawaii. Charbonnet flashed pretty good abilities while in Ann Arbor, but he certainly had one of his best performances ever as a Bruin last week. He’ll face a better defense this week, but my eye is still on him to see if he repeats his performance.
UCLA Receivers vs. LSU Secondary
UCLA’s receivers have a very tricky task coming for them on Saturday. No receiver had more than two receptions last week, and no one picked up more than 47 yards. Simply put, the output from the receivers will be significantly more imperative this week. That’s because they’ll be playing one of the better secondaries they’ll face all year. LSU’s defense was a rare weak point last year, but don’t bet on that happening again. Derek Stingley is probably the best cornerback in the nation, and fellow DB Eli Ricks quietly had a very strong year as a freshman last year. They, along with Darren Evans and Raydarious Jones will be tough to deal with in the secondary. This is where my eyes will be all night. If LSU’s defense is more 2019 than 2020, UCLA could be in for a long day.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA
DTR has a lot of hype behind him going into the year. Out west, Thompson-Robinson is one of the better quarterbacks in the Pac-12, and he’s the X-Factor in this game.
Against Hawaii, DTR didn’t have the greatest day. He certainly was ‘effective,’ but 10-for-20 for just 130 yards isn’t too great. Especially when you consider that he went up against a Rainbow Warriors squad that wasn’t matched up too well against the Bruins either. He’ll certainly have to play much better than that for UCLA to pick up a win over the visiting Tigers.
If DTR improves his play, he gives UCLA a puncher’s chance. If not, LSU could feast on him. Ali Gaye and the defensive line could wreak havoc, and he’ll be throwing against two All-SEC defensive backs in Stingley and Ricks.
(From DraftKings Sportsbook)
Spread: LSU-2.5 | UCLA +2.5
Moneyline: LSU -140 | UCLA +120
Total: 65 (O +100 | U -120)
LSU is the favorite in this game, and probably for good reason. UCLA is a solid team, but their numbers against a pretty dreadful Hawaii team were good, not great. The passing offense being lackluster doesn’t give me too much confidence in them. While I think LSU might have some issues out of the gate with inexperience, they feel like the much more well-rounded team here.
Zach Charbonnet packs a punch, but so do John Emery Jr. and Tyron Davis-Price. All the running backs have reportedly had good camps, so that’s a feisty group that the Tigers will be bringing to Pasadena.
This all combined with Kayshon Boutte being, in my opinion, the best offensive player on the field and the defensive advantage LSU has lends my belief that the Tigers will win this game. So I would probably take LSU straight up on the ML if I had the choice of a pick here. There is some value there still at that number, so go crazy.