Kansas State (7-5) vs UCLA (6-6)
When: Tuesday, December 26th 2017
Where: Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ
Time: 9:00 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Kansas State -2.5/63
The UCLA Bruins went out and got a program-changing coach before the season ended, but they’ll have to wait a little longer before the Chip Kelly era begins in Los Angeles. The Bruins will be led by interim coach Jedd Fisch when they take on the Kansas State Wildcats in the 2017 Cactus Bowl from Phoenix, Arizona on December 26th. UCLA hired Kelly on November 25th, six days after firing Jim Mora following a 28-23 loss to crosstown rival USC. Fisch led UCLA to a 30-27 victory against California in the final regular-season game, making the Bruins bowl-eligible after they missed out on the postseason a year ago. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen finished the regular season 10th in the FBS in passing yards with 3,717, but the junior has been slowed by injuries the past two seasons and was unable to finish a couple of games this year. He was replaced against California by Devon Modster after getting sacked three times in the first half. He is listed as doubtful for the bowl game as he still suffers from concussion-like symptoms. Kansas State has the second-worst pass defense in the FBS at 310.3 passing yards surrendered per game, so Modster could be poised for a break-out game. The Wildcats ended the regular season with a 20-19 win over Iowa State on a last-second touchdown pass which came a week after the Wildcats upset then-No. 13 Oklahoma State 45-40 as 19.5-point underdogs. Kansas State met UCLA in the Alamo Bowl in January, 2015, and the 40-35 victory by the Bruins was somewhat overshadowed when Mora pulled his hand away from Kansas State coach Bill Snyder during their postgame handshake because he didn’t like the way the Wildcats remained physical as the Bruins tried to run out the clock.
The Wildcats have QB issues of their own as they’ve used three of them this season, but they might be playing their best football behind freshman Skylar Thompson, who only threw two passes the first seven games but is 25-for-34 in the past two games with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Jesse Ertz started the first five games before he sustained a season-ending knee injury, and Alex Delton started the next four before he was sidelined with a concussion. Thompson has a couple of dangerous weapons in deep-threat Byron Pringle, who is averaging 25.2 yards on his 28 receptions, or Isaiah Zuber, who has caught a team-high 51 passes for 510 yards and four touchdowns. The defense, as we mentioned, is terrible against the pass, but is 19th in the country at stopping the run (121.8).
The receiving corps for the Bruins is going through the injury-bug this season as well, losing leading receiver Darren Andrews to a season-ending knee injury on November 3rd against Utah, a month after top tight end Caleb Wilson was lost for the season with a foot injury. The Bruins still have an offensive option with junior wide receiver Jordan Lasley, who’s coming off back-to-back 200-yard receiving efforts while significantly improving his NFL Draft stock. The challenge for Rosen or Modster will be finding other receivers to step up against the poor Kansas State pass defense. UCLA can not stop the run this season to the tune of 282.7 yards a game – 129th in the country.
Without Rose, this UCLA team is in for a long day. The defense can’t stop anyone and it looks like the freshman Thompson could have a big day for K-State. The Bruins are already looking towards 2018 and the Chip Kelly era.
Pick: Kansas State -6.5
- Wildcats are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS loss.
- Wildcats are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games in December.
- Wildcats are 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 games after accumulating less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
- Wildcats are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games.
- Wildcats are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
- Wildcats are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 bowl games.
- Wildcats are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 Bowl games.
- Wildcats are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 vs. Pac-12.
- Bruins are 7-16 ATS in their last 23 games on grass.
- Bruins are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
- Bruins are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games overall.
- Bruins are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games following a straight up win.
- Bruins are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Bruins are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
- Bruins are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games.
- Bruins are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
- Over is 4-0 in Wildcats last 4 games following a ATS loss.
- Under is 4-1 in Wildcats last 5 games after accumulating less than 275 total yards in their previous game.
- Under is 4-1 in Wildcats last 5 games in December.
- Over is 4-1 in Wildcats last 5 games after accumulating less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
- Over is 5-1-1 in Bruins last 7 non-conference games.
- Over is 4-1 in Bruins last 5 games following a straight up win.
- Over is 4-1 in Bruins last 5 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
- Over is 4-1 in Bruins last 5 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Over is 11-4 in Bruins last 15 vs. Big 12.
- Under is 19-7-1 in Bruins last 27 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
- Over is 5-2 in Bruins last 7 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
- Over is 5-2 in Bruins last 7 games following a ATS loss.