Nebraska (5-7) vs UCLA (8-4)
When: Saturday, December 26th 2015
Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
Time: 9:15 ET | TV: ESPN
Two teams that weren’t expected to be in this Bowl game will meet in Santa Clara for the Foster Farms Bowl as the Nebraska Cornhuskers face the UCLA Bruins. Nebraska finished the season 5-7 and wasn’t even bowl eligible, but because there are now 40 Bowl games, three 5-7 teams made it based on an Academic Progress Rate tiebreaker. This was only the third losing season for the Huskers since 1962, but they were a little better than their record indicates. Nebraska became just the second team since 2006 to lose four games on the final play of regulation or overtime. Their seven losses came by a combined 31 points. Some Bowl teams have single losses of 31 or more points. The Huskers won two of their final three games including a 39-38 win over Big Ten Champion Michigan State. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. leads the Big Ten’s second-ranked total offense and is the only Cornhusker to record two seasons with at least 3,000 total yards, but threw nine of his 16 interceptions over the final three games. Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp is tied with Nate Swift for the most single-season receptions in school history with 63 entering tonight’s game. Tight end Cethan Carter had some big plays down the stretch for Nebraska hauling in 11 catches for 178 yards over his last three games. The Huskers defense is really tough to run on allowing just 113.4 yards a game on the ground – 9th best in FBS.
UCLA was one win away from possibly playing in the Rose Bowl, but lost to cross-town rival USC 40-21 in the season finale. Freshman quarterback Josh Rosen broke a streak of 245 passes without an interception in that game and ended up throwing two while completing just 19-of-37 passes. He still earned Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors and broke several school records along the way. The future looks bright for this kid in L.A. Kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn became the conference’s all-time leading scorer and receiver Jordan Payton become the school’s all-time receptions leader this season. Running back Paul Perkins finished third in the conference with 1,275 rushing yards. Coach Jim Mora can notch his 38th career victory with UCLA with a win tonight to break Terry Donahue’s record for the most wins over his first four seasons at the school. The UCLA defense tied for first in the PAC-12 allowing the fewest yards per play this season (4.9). The Bruins defense is pretty decent against the pass-happy PAC-12, but were awful against the run allowing 187.7 rushing yards per game – 88th in the country. They should have a pretty good crowd follow them up the coast tonight despite just missing out on the Rose Bowl.
I know Nebraska has been in every game this season, but this UCLA team is much better than them and I think they make the NCAA wish they would not have any 5-7 teams in a bowl game.
Pick: UCLA -6.5