No. 16 LSU will be traveling a long way from home when it makes the cross-country trek for its opener in Saturday's Week 1 game vs. UCLA in Pasadena, California's Rose Bowl. At the end of the lengthy journey to one of the most iconic and scenic venues in all of sports will be a big test for Tigers coach Ed Orgeron's squad, which is coming off of a disappointing 5-5 season one season after claiming the national championship.
They'll play a Bruins team that looked quite good in Week 0 in a 44-10 win over Hawaii. Running back Zach Charbonnet rushed for 106 yards and three touchdowns, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for 130 yards, and the defense gave up just 26 yards on the ground in the emphatic win.
What will happen on Saturday night in Pasadena? Let's break down the matchup and make some picks straight up and against the spread.
LSU vs. UCLA: Need to know
Pressure on the Tigers: At SEC Media Days, Orgeron acknowledged the mistakes he made following LSU's 2019 national title run. Now, he's correcting them. He went out and hired Jake Peetz to run an offense that will utilize five-man protections almost exclusively, which is exactly what the 2019 title-winning team did. Defensive coordinator Daronte Jones has taken over a group that looked beyond lost last year under Bo Pelini. Jones has simplified everything for the talent-laden unit. The pieces are in place but so is the sense of urgency. The Tigers absolutely can't play like they did last year. If they do, there will be a ton of pressure on Orgeron as the season moves on.
Statement or anomaly? Was UCLA's success against the Rainbow Warriors a sign of things to come, or was it due to facing an overmatched opponent? Coach Chip Kelly seems to have a much more dangerous running scheme, especially up front, which bodes well for the rest of the season. That offense will square off against an LSU defense that, while talented, got lit up last season. Are the Bruins for real? We'll find out.
Max Johnson vs. UCLA's defense: Johnson was in a heated quarterback battle with Myles Brennan for a majority of the offseason, but Brennan's arm injury changed things. While it's true that Johnson might have won the job anyway, he'll have his work cut out for him against a Bruins defense that had two picks last weekend. Johnson threw six touchdowns over the final two games last year, which prevented the Tigers from finishing with a losing record. He can also move a bit, which should allow Peetz to incorporate many of the same elements that LSU used with former QB and Heisman winner, Joe Burrow.
How to watch LSU vs. UCLA live
Date: Saturday, Sept. 4 | Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Rose Bowl -- Pasadena, California
TV: Fox | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
LSU vs. UCLA prediction, picks
LSU is going to be a force, and it'll start on Saturday with a big win over the Bruins. Johnson and wide receiver Kayshon Boutte will have huge games, and make a statement to the college football world that the Tigers are back. On the flip side, the talented LSU defensive backfield -- led by Derek Stingley Jr. -- will force multiple mistakes in what will be a double-digit victory. Prediction: LSU (-3.5)
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 1, and which national title contender will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned over $3,600 in profit over the past five-plus seasons -- and find out.