UCLA football's odds of getting into the national title game have historically been, well, Hail Mary.
The Bruins' only title claim was the coaches' share of the 1954 crown under coach Red Sanders. UCLA more recently flirted with an appearance in the first Bowl Championship Series title game in 1998. A December heartbreak loss at Miami that year cost the Bruins a chance to play Tennessee for the national title in the Fiesta Bowl.
Happier days may be here again. The Las Vegas sports book BovadaLV has given the Bruins 12-5 odds next year of making the first four-team playoff in college football.
Not too shabby when you consider California Chrome was 5-2 to win the Kentucky Derby.
For the record, UCLA does not actually make the playoff final four in these projections, but just being in the conversation should inspire Bruins fans heading into the season.
Defending national champion Florida State, at 2-7, has by far the best odds of reaching the playoff. Alabama is next at 5-4, followed by Oregon and Ohio State, both at 1-1. The next four are Oklahoma and Auburn at 7-4, Louisiana State at 9-4 and UCLA at 12-5.
A 13-person selection committee will pick the top four teams. Just for fun: If the selection order of the top four teams ended up being Florida State, Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State, the national semifinal games would pit Florida State and Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl and Alabama vs. Oregon in the Rose Bowl. The winners would meet for the title at A&T Stadium in North Texas.
UCLA is coming off a 10-3 season and returns Heisman Trophy candidate Brett Hundley at quarterback. The Bruins are expected to be start top 10 in many preseason polls.
USC, for what it's worth, is listed as 6-1 odds to make the first four-team playoff. The Trojans finished 10-4 last season and return quarterback Cody Kessler.
Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times