Kansas State (7-5) vs. UCLA (6-6)
9 p.m. ET, Dec. 26 (ESPN)
Kansas State -3, O/U: 64
HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE
Kansas State: The Wildcats won four of their last five games to get bowl eligible. That was a pretty tall task too, when you consider KSU’s final three opponents were West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Iowa State. KSU lost to the Mountaineers — who still had a healthy Will Grier — and held on to beat Oklahoma State despite a late Cowboys comeback and having to use a fourth-string quarterback. K-State then scored a game-winning touchdown on the final play of the game to beat Iowa State and finish 7-5.
UCLA: The Bruins’ season was a yo-yo. It started with a miraculous win over Texas A&M after trailing 44-10. After beating Hawaii to move to 2-0, UCLA then lost to Memphis and Stanford. The Bruins then beat Colorado, lost to Arizona, beat Oregon, lost to Washington and Utah, beat Arizona State, lost to USC and beat Cal to get to .500. See, we told you it was a yo-yo.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Byron Pringle, Kansas State, WR: Pringle leads the team in receiving yards (705) and touchdowns (6) despite having just 28 catches. That’s an absurd 25.2 yards per catch. Quarterback Skylar Thompson has thrown four of those touchdowns to Pringle and he’ll start on Tuesday. Thompson, who began the season as the No. 3 quarterback, took over after injuries to Jesse Ertz and Alex Delton.
Devon Monster, UCLA, QB: Modster gets the start after Josh Rosen wasn’t medically cleared to play in the Cactus Bowl. Rosen is a likely top pick in the 2018 NFL draft, though his choice to come out of college could depend on who holds the No. 1 pick. Modster started at Utah when Rosen missed the game because of a concussion suffered vs. Washington. Modster is 30-45 passing for 376 yards and two touchdowns this season. His limited sample-size quarterback rating is actually better than Rosen’s. Don’t read too much into that.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH
UCLA still has offensive talent despite the absence of Rosen. Wide receivers Jordan Lasley and Darren Andrews have combined for 121 catches, 1,1909 yards and 18 touchdowns. And Kansas State coach Bill Snyder will have some bowl game wizardry up his sleeve. The Bruins could outgain Kansas State 2-1 and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see KSU lead by two scores.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE
It’s Kansas State’s eighth-straight bowl appearance. The Wildcats are just 2-5 in that stretch, though KSU beat Texas A&M a year ago in the Texas Bowl. UCLA is looking for its first bowl win since the 2014 Alamo Bowl. That was the season before Rosen stepped on campus.
Nick: Kansas State 29, UCLA 20
Sam: UCLA 31, Kansas State 27
– – – – – – –