#11 Kansas State v. #14 UCLA
Alamodome — San Antonio, TX
January 2, 2015 — 6:45 pm Eastern (ESPN)
Why You Should Watch
It’s the 22nd edition of the Alamo Bowl, a game which has regularly drawn 65,000 people to watch two college teams duke it out in San Antonio. Other than the national championship game 10 days later, this is your last opportunity to catch a battle of top-25 teams this season. The third-place team in the Big 12 squares off against the third-place team in the Pac-12 South, and both will be looking to end their seasons on a high note after they lost their respective regular-season finales. Pour yourself the beverage of your choice and kick off the weekend with one of the hidden gems of the bowl season.
What Each Team Brings to the Table
Bill Snyder’s return to Manhattan has been nothing short of brilliant, as he’s restored the Wildcats to perennial contention in the Big 12. They fell short this season against the likes of Baylor and TCU, and they also faltered against defending SEC champion Auburn at home, but there is still a shot to finish with double digits in the win column for the third time in four years. Senior quarterback Jake Waters improved in his second season as a starter, completing 66 percent of his passes for 3163 yards and 20 touchdowns. The passing attack, as a result, finished 20th nationally with 283 yards per game. Senior receiver Tyler Lockett was a big part of that aerial success, catching 93 passes for 1351 yards and nine scores. The ground game took a step back from recent editions, ranking 95th nationally with fewer than 143 yards per game. Where Kansas State excelled was in scoring margin, ranking 24th in points scored and 26th in points allowed. The defense allowed just over 360 yards per game. Snyder’s crew was its usual disciplined self, committing less than 40 yards of penalties per game to rank in the top 15 in the country.
UCLA entered the year expecting to contend for one of the spots in the College Football Playoff thanks to the return of quarterback Brett Hundley for another season. Instead they struggled through wins over Virginia, Memphis, and Texas in non-conference play. A rout of Arizona State made it appear as though the Bruins had righted the ship in Westwood… then they lost consecutive games to Utah and Oregon to fall back in the race. A Pac-12 South title was still alive on the final weekend, but a 31-10 loss to Stanford conceded the division to Arizona. Hundley was his usual solid self, completing 70 percent of his passes for 3019 yards and 21 touchdowns, but did not improve on last year’s numbers. UCLA was still 35th in passing, 39th in rushing, and 40th nationally with 33 points per game. The defense was a weak spot for the Bruins, allowing over 400 yards and nearly four touchdowns on average during the regular season.
What is Likely to Happen
UCLA has a far more balanced offense, which could prove valuable against a disciplined Wildcat defense that will be well-prepared for Hundley and company. The Bruins will have their own answers for Jake Rudock and crew, with linebackers Eric Kendricks and Myles Jack lurking behind the line ready to clean up on both running and passing downs. But the Wildcats lost to three teams that were a combined 30-6 this season, while UCLA’s three losses came to teams with an aggregate record of 28-10. The Bruins have shown a propensity for skirting by in close contests, and that will const them in a back-and-forth thriller at the Alamodome. A disciplined effort by Snyder’s disciples will help overcome a UCLA team with more raw talent but that is prone to make more mistakes.
Kansas State 31, UCLA 24