UCLA Football: The Bruins’ S&P+ is telling, but doesn’t tell the whole story

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(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

SB Nation writer Bill Connelly has come out with his coveted S&P+ numbers for every team entering the 2019 season and is projecting the UCLA football team to win 4.9 games. Though his numbers represent certain accuracies, it doesn’t take into consideration other factors, which leads us to believe that the Bruins will be better than Bill believes.

The S&P+ rating system has become a standard tool for college football analytics, especially when trying to predict the performance of every FBS team. Among UCLA football fans, Bill Connelly’s S&P+ projections have sparked a conversation about how the Bruins will do next season.

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In the last few weeks, Connelly has released both his 2019 college football preview data for every Pac-12 team. Though he has the Bruins doing better than their 3-9 finish in 2018, it is not by much as he only has UCLA winning 4.9 games next season. That is in contrast to what several other writers have been publishing about the Bruins in Year 2 of the Chip Kelly era.

Though we respect the S&P+ rankings, there seem to be a few things they do not include which is why most writers on the Bruins beat are predicting more than five wins in 2019. Some have gone on to predict 8 or 9 wins. Here at Go Joe Bruin, we have predicted a 7-5 regular season finish and here is why…

Key UCLA Football S&P+ Numbers Over the Last Three Years

  • Final 2017 S&P+ rankings: Overall: 51 | Offense: 9 | Defense: 104
  • Projected 2018 S&P+ rankings: Overall: 39 | Offense: 18 | Defense: 84
  • Final 2018 S&P+ rankings: Overall: 76 | Offense: 50 | Defense: 97
  • Projected 2019 S&P+ rankings: Overall: 63 | Offense: 50 | Defense: 72

First off, let us look at the all-important transition between the Jim Mora era and the Kelly era. The Bruins ended 2017 with a fantastic offensive ranking and an atrocious defensive ranking. We can all thank Josh Rosen for the offense and blame the Bruins’ “bend but don’t break” philosophy on defense. Going into 2018, Connelly gives UCLA good S&P+ numbers.

With the Bruins losing one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, Connelly doesn’t drop the Bruins off too much despite a new coach, new system (which was unknown at the time), a new grad transfer QB and a true freshmen QB. As we saw last season, they did worse compared to the S&P+ numbers, but as the season went on, there was clear progress.

The defense was not good at all. They even got worse as the season progressed, but this was because several players exited the program, injuries ran rampant across the roster, and the coaches heavily relied on younger players. By season’s end, the Bruins did worse than Connelly’s projections.

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