Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Illinois vs. UCLA

December, 30, 2011
12/30/11
5:30
PM ET
The Kraft Fighting Hunger Bowl features two teams that fired their coaches, but that doesn't mean neither will show up and play hard. Not necessarily, at least.

WHO TO WATCH: UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince. This is almost certainly Prince's last game running the Bruins' run-first pistol offense. Next year under new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, the Bruins will be spreading the field and throwing all over the place. Still, considering that interim coach Mike Johnson is more of a pro-style offensive coordinator, it wouldn't be surprising to see fewer QB keepers and more passes. And Prince, a junior, can make a statement to his new coaches about who should be the starting signal-caller in 2012.

WHAT TO WATCH: The mood. Illinois lost its final six games and fired Ron Zook. UCLA lost its final regular-season game to rival USC 50-zip and fired Rick Neuheisel, then subsequently needed a waiver from the NCAA to play in a bowl game after finishing with a losing record. Both teams suspended players after the regular season ended due to academic or behavior issues. With two interim coaches, and two staffs that aren't fully invested in the program going forward, it's likely one or both teams will be sloppy and uninspired. Things could get ugly. The question is whether ugly describes both teams imploding or just one.

WHY TO WATCH: Because it's college football and college football is awesome. Because it's hard not to slow down and rubberneck a traffic accident. Because there will be a quiz on this game on the Pac-12 blog on Tuesday, and the person who gets the most answers right wins $1 zillion. Maybe.

PREDICTION: Illinois 20, UCLA 14: Both teams enter amid down circumstances. Both teams have damaging player suspensions/ineligibility. The difference is that, despite everything, Illinois does something well — play defense — and UCLA does not.

Ted Miller | email

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