Welcome back to San Diego… this game is so important that it’s got “education” as it’s middle name!
The History: From its inception in 1978 through 1990, the bowl featured the Western Athletic Conference champion and an at-large team. In 1991, the Bowl made an agreement with the Big Ten to have its third selection play the WAC champion. In 1997, after the break up of the WAC, the Holiday Bowl signed agreements with the Pac-10 (now the Pac-12) & Big 12 conferences. Today, the bowl features the third selection from the Pac-12 and the fifth selection from the Big 12.
Baylor Scouting Report: Baylor finished the regular season 7-5 including wins over Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech and losses to Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia (remember the 70-63 loss they had against the Mountaineers?). The Bears lead the nation in total offense at 578.8 yards per game and rank fifth in scoring (44.1). Quarterback Nick Florence had big shoes to fill, replacing Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. He was up to the task. He led the nation in total offense at 387.7 yards per game. Look for him to target senior receiver Terrance Williams a lot, who set a school-record with 1,764 receiving yards. The Bears’ defense struggled this season, however, allowing on average 38.2 points per game and 513.9 yards per game.
Buckeye Connection: The Buckeyes are 2-0 against the Bears all time. The last meeting between the teams came in 1982, which resulted in a 21-14 win. This year, given the Bears’ lack of defense, I must say I believe the Buckeyes’ offense would’ve had a field day had they played each other.
UCLA Scouting Report: The Bruins finished the season 9-4 and are coming off two straight losses to Stanford, the second of which was the Pac-12 championship game. Before those two losses, UCLA had won five straight games. Redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley has completed 68.2 percent of his passes for 3,411 yards and 26 touchdowns. Senior running back Johnathan Franklin is ninth in the nation in rushing yards per game (130.8) and is the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,369 career yards. Baylor allows 190.8 rushing yards per game, so Franklin could have a big game.
Buckeye Connection: Ohio State is 4-4 all time against the Bruins, with the last meeting coming during the 2001 season which resulted in a 13-6 loss. I feel the Buckeyes would have taken care of business had the two teams played this year, especially if they’d have been the Ohio State team firing on all four cylinders that we saw at times this past season.
Predictions: Here are our picks for the Holiday Bowl….
Given Baylor’s shaky run defense, I expect a huge day for UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin. Baylor QB Nick Florence had some problems with turnovers this season, and now, he’ll face the nation’s leader in sacks when he faces UCLA LB Anthony Barr. I think a turnover or two from Florence sways it in the Bruins’ favor in a high scoring, close game.