More information about the 2020 college football season is upon us in May than any season before. Everyone is hopeful a season will happen — and though we cannot predict the future — we can at least attempt to predict the games that are on the schedule.
That’s exactly what ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) has done, giving us updated win-loss records for every school across the country, including your UCLA Bruins.
Reminder, the ESPN FPI is defined as:
The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 20,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily. FPI data from seasons prior to 2019 may not be complete.
Alright, so after running through their simulations and projections — here’s how the 2020 UCLA football season pans out:
Week 1 vs New Mexico State Aggies
Projected Result (Win %): WIN (98.2%)
Simulations account for everything so apparently there’s a 1.8% chance that UCLA doesn’t field a complete roster and gets penalized for not having 11 players on the field repeatedly, and thus loses this one. Ain’t gonna happen, it’s a win.
Week 2 @ Hawaii Warriors
Projected Result (Win %): WIN (73.5%)
The trip to Hawaii should scare many, but it should still look like a win on paper because UCLA has the more talented roster and continuity on its hands. Give me a 2-0 start, which would be such a different start than the past two seasons.
Week 4 @ San Diego State Aztecs
Projected Result (Win %): WIN (56.8%)
No, you’re not reading that incorrectly — this is a projected 3-0 start, not 0-3 under Chip Kelly. The Aztecs have a talented rushing attack and a strong secondary but should lack depth across the board to hand with UCLA.
Week 5 vs Stanford Cardinal
Projected Result (Win %): LOSS (42.1%)
How draining would this one be? Defeating in many, many ways if the Cardinal team were to come in with ‘the top QB of his class’ finally riding his ability to a marquee victory. Still, Davis Mills has not proven to be more than a high school star and will have just four weeks to prepare for the unfriendly confines of the Rose Bowl (if we can pack it with students/fans).
Week 6 vs Arizona Wildcats
Projected Result (Win %): WIN (59.6%)
Like Stanford, the Wildcats enter the Rose Bowl riding waves of an impressive QB who had great glimpses of what he could do. Still, he’s nothing more than a high school star at this point but Grant Gunnell did look better than Khalil Tate last year. I’d have to say, Arizona scares me more than Stanford this year. That is, if they had a capable rest of their roster.
Week 7 @ Arizona State Sun Devils
Projected Result (Win %): LOSS (40.8%)
Yikes. The Sun Devils have to replace Eno Benjamin and Brandon Aiyuk and have to do it in a hurry this year. Jayden Daniels should carry them forward and he has underrated athletic ability. Heading to the desert gives ASU the advantage here and the simulations also believe it.
Week 8 @ Colorado Buffaloes
Projected Result (Win %): WIN (53.7%)
I know being at home gives you an advantage but the Buffs at home under a head coach who still hasn’t been able to meet his full team face-to-face shouldn’t be near a coin-flip against UCLA. That’s where we are, though, so you better hope DTR is who we think he can be and the offensive line gives him a chance to stand clean against a talented front seven.
Week 10 vs Utah Utes (Thursday)
Projected Result (Win %): LOSS (36.0%)
The projections and simulations are much more bullish on the Utes this year than the eye test, it appears. We don’t know who the QB is going to be and whether it’s Cameron Rising or Jake Bentley, they still have a ton more questions after that. A week and a half off to get ready for this one on a Thursday night, and I think the Bruins should at least make it close.
Week 11 @ Oregon State Beavers
Projected Result (Win %): WIN (52.4%)
A lower chance to beat the Beavers than the Buffaloes? That’s what they’re building up in Corvallis, but it’s not happening in 2020. Maybe 2021.
Week 12 vs Washington State Cougars
Projected Result (Win %): WIN (64.6%)
The Bruins get to play Nick Rolovich twice this season, basically, as they play his former team with all his recruited players at Hawaii, and take him and his Cougars on in November. Rolovich has a lot to answer on his roster and it will be interesting to see how much this line fluctuates after we know what his offense will look like in 2020.
Week 13 vs USC Trojans
Projected Result (Win %): LOSS (18.9%)
Okay, fine. Doubt the Bruins. It’s warranted under Kelly.
Week 14 @ California Golden Bears
Projected Result (Win %): LOSS (34.0%)
ESPN isn’t even as high on the Bears, compared to say CBS Sports who had Cal at 11-1 this season, but still, gives UCLA just over a third of a chance to win this one. Heading north to Berkeley certainly brings with it challenges but UCLA should roster just as much talent to make it close against the Bears.
So, ESPN predicts it, we listen, read and can discuss now. That’s a 7-5 (4-5) record this year. Any games you think are way off? Either in a good, or a bad way?