The Colorado Buffaloes rolled through three non-conference opponents, but now the stakes are raised as they host the UCLA Bruins in the Pac-12 opener for both teams on Friday at 9 p.m. ET. The Buffaloes are favored by 10 points in the most-recent UCLA vs. Colorado odds, while the over-under for total points scored is 56.5. The total opened at 62, but has dropped by almost a touchdown as bettors anticipate a lower-scoring game. The double-digit point spread may appear daunting, so before you make any UCLA vs. Colorado picks, you'll want to see what SportsLine expert Mike Tierney has to say. 

The veteran sportswriter and handicapper has covered college football of all levels up close for decades. And that expertise really shines through when it comes to Pac-12 football. The Los Angeles-based handicapper is on a perfect 5-0 run picking UCLA games. That includes a pair of contests this year, taking the Bruins (+30) against Oklahoma and Cincinnati (+15) against UCLA, as both underdogs covered. 

Now he has studied UCLA vs. Colorado from every possible angle and jumped all over one side of this spread. He's sharing his pick only over at SportsLine. 

Tierney knows the Buffaloes have averaged 41 points in their 3-0 start, just missing out on the Associated Press Top 25 (26th) this week. The team finished dead last in the Pac-12 South last season after winning the title the year before, but it appears back on track in a hurry.

Colorado is averaging 204 rushing yards, third among Pac 12 teams. It's also averaging 290 yards passing, led by junior Steven Montez, making the balanced offense tough to slow down. 

Colorado's defense has been just as stout, allowing 18.3 points per game. The squad returned its top three tacklers from a year ago. So far this season, Mustafa Johnson, a junior college transfer, has 3.5 sacks, while Nate Landman, a sophomore linebacker, has two interceptions. Colorado is 2-0 against the spread versus FCS teams this season.

Just because Colorado has been strong to open the season doesn't mean it can cover a double-digit spread against Chip Kelly's UCLA squad. 

The game against Colorado will mark the first one UCLA isn't dealing with athletic code suspensions to several key players.

Running back Soso Jamabo, tight end Devin Asiasi, center Boss Tagaloa and defensive linemen Osa Odighizuwa and Moses Robinson-Carr and defensive back Mo Osling missed the opening game at Cincinnati. Jamabo also missed the game against Oklahoma and Asiasi and Tagaloa also sat against Fresno State. As such, UCLA will be at full strength.

UCLA is a 10-point underdog, but games between these teams have gone down to the fire the last four years. The total margin of victory over the last four games is just 20 points, and the Bruins have won three of four. And the Bruins' strength of schedule -- losses to Cincinnati, Oklahoma and Fresno State -- has been tough, ranking 17th in the country -- 100 spots higher than Colorado's strength of schedule.

Tierney has studied each matchup in-depth and has identified a critical x-factor that caused him to jump all over one side. He's sharing what it is, and who to back, only at SportsLine.

Who wins UCLA vs. Colorado? And what critical x-factor makes one side a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you should jump on Friday night, all from a seasoned college football expert who's nailed five-straight picks involving the Bruins.