Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Pac-12 bowl primer: Holiday Bowl
By Kevin Gemmell
This week we'll be taking a snapshot look at all of the bowl games including Pac-12 teams.
BRIDGEPOINT EDUCATION HOLIDAY BOWL
Baylor (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) vs. UCLA (9-4, 6-3)
Where: San Diego
When: Thursday, Dec. 27, 9:45 p.m. ET/6:45 PT
About UCLA: The Bruins had a very successful season under new head coach Jim Mora, reaching the conference championship game and scoring marquee wins over Nebraska, Arizona and USC. Despite a fairly young offensive line, the Bruins ranked 37th nationally in rushing. The Bruins enter the Holiday Bowl on a two-game losing skid ... though both losses were in consecutive weeks to Stanford, which ranks No. 8 in the BCS standings. The Bruins, Pac-12 South Division champs, are playing in their eighth bowl game in the last 10 years.
About Baylor: The Bears might be playing some of the best football in the country down the stretch. After sitting at 3-4 at the end of October and teetering on the edge of bowl ineligibility, they went on to win four of their last five -- including a throttling of No. 1 Kansas State (52-24), an overtime win over Texas Tech and a season-finale win over No. 23 Oklahoma State. This is the first time in school history Baylor is going to a third consecutive bowl game.
Key players, UCLA: While redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley has grown leaps and bounds since we first saw him earn the job in fall camp, it's been running back Johnathan Franklin that has really been the rock for the Bruins offense. The Walter Camp second-team All-American netted 1,700 yards with 13 touchdowns and averages 130.8 yards per game on the ground. That takes a ton of pressure off of Hundley, who has been stellar in his first season with 26 passing touchdowns and a 68.2 completion percentage. On the other side of the ball, Anthony Barr has transformed from offensive after-thought to linebacker extraordinaire.
Key players, Baylor: The Bruins will need Barr to bring the pressure, because quarterback Nick Florence leads the nation with 387.7 yards of total offense per game. His favorite target is senior All-American Terrance Williams, a Biletnikoff Award finalist, who averages a national-best 147 receiving yards per game. Linebacker Eddie Lackey has three interceptions in the last two games and four on the season.
Did you know: This is the first ever meeting between the two schools ... Baylor ranks No. 1 in the country in total offense (578.7 yards per game) ... During the Bears' late-season run, the defense has intercepted 11 passes over the final five games, and they are 15-2 when forcing two or more turnovers under defensive coordinator Phil Bennett ... Williams needs 236 receiving yards to become the second 2,000-yard receiver in NCAA history ... Barr leads the nation with 13.5 sacks ... This is UCLA's 32nd bowl appearance and the Bruins are 14-16-1 in postseason play.