Which bowl game is on the horizon for UCLA football?

UCLA's bowl game will be the career finale for seniors such as Jordan Payton, the team's all-time receptions leader. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA’s bowl game will be the career finale for seniors such as Jordan Payton, the team’s all-time receptions leader. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

After losing to USC on Saturday, UCLA receiver Jordan Payton framed the bowl game as a chance to “put the program back in the right direction.”

As a refresher, here are the Pac-12’s bowl tie-ins, in order of selection:

1. Rose Bowl
2. Alamo Bowl
3. Holiday Bowl
4. Foster Farms Bowl
5. Sun Bowl
6. Las Vegas Bowl
7. Cactus Bowl

Since it doesn’t serve as a playoff semifinal this year, the Rose Bowl will simply take the Pac-12 champion. If that champion ends up in the playoff — only Stanford has a chance — then the bowl will take the next-highest-ranked team out of the conference. Either scenario puts UCLA in the range to go as high as the Holiday Bowl and as low as the Las Vegas Bowl.

Important note: While the top bowls in the order can take teams within one game of the best available conference record, the Sun, Las Vegas, and Cactus Bowls do not have such leeway. They only have a choice between multiple teams with the same record.

Holiday Bowl | Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego) | Dec. 30, 7:30 p.m.

UCLA likely won’t be heading to San Diego for bowl season, but the Bruins shouldn’t be counted out entirely. With the third selection out of the Pac-12, the Holiday Bowl should get their pick of the three 6-3 teams — Utah, USC and Washington State — assuming that Stanford and Oregon end up in the Rose and Alamo Bowls, respectively. UCLA is technically eligible at 5-4, but executive director Mark Neville all but ruled out the Bruins, telling the OC Register that the Holiday Bowl would be more likely to take the Trojans a second straight year.

Foster Farms Bowl | Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara) | Dec. 26, 6:15 p.m.

Even with a 5-4 record, UCLA could be an intriguing option to play in Santa Clara. Foster Farms Bowl executive director Gary Cavalli said the factor that works in the Bruins’ favor is proximity: There’s a strong UCLA alumni presence in the Bay Area, and even fans in Los Angeles could easily make the drive.

“Even if they wanted to drive the morning of the game, they could leave L.A. at 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock, get here with plenty of time for a 6:15 start,” Cavalli said. “If they wanted to drive up, spend Christmas night up here — there’s all kinds of advantages because they can get here in five or six hours.”

That’s not a small consideration, given that out-of-state fans may be less inclined to attend a bowl game over whatever family commitments they might have on Christmas. However, Cavalli also said that the excitement of a fanbase and the potential matchup in the game itself also weigh into the decision.

Washington State’s fans, Cavalli said, might be “a little hungrier” given that they haven’t won a bowl game since 2003. He was less certain about Utah, adding that he needed to due more research due to concerns about “disillusionment” after falling from being ranked as high as No. 3 in the country. Working against USC is the fact that the Trojans are already set to play at Levi’s Stadium this Saturday.

Sun Bowl | Sun Bowl Stadium (El Paso) | Dec. 26, 11 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. MT

UCLA can’t end up in the Sun Bowl unless Stanford makes the College Football Playoff, or if two Pac-12 teams end up in New Year’s Six games. Because there are five teams with better conference records than the Bruins, the last of the available 6-3 teams would automatically end up in El Paso.

“UCLA brings a good name, some good people, and a national audience to our football game,” said Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas. “That’s who we’re looking for. We’re looking for somebody who’s established. … UCLA would be very high if they were available to us. We just don’t think we can get to them right now.”

Las Vegas Bowl | Sam Boyd Stadium (Las Vegas) | Dec. 19, 12:30 p.m.

Like the Sun Bowl, the Las Vegas Bowl doesn’t have a lot of choice when it comes to the Pac-12. If the Foster Farms Bowl passes on UCLA, the Bruins would appear bound for Sin City for the second time this season.

However, the Las Vegas Bowl is also eager not to avoid any repeats. It is in discussions with the Pac-12 about possible alternatives if Utah — which beat Colorado State in the event last year — falls into that slot again. Executive director John Saccenti also said that the bowl does not want a rematch of UCLA and BYU, since the two teams already played earlier this year.

Another consideration is that UCLA’s academic quarter system has finals scheduled on Dec. 7-11, which overlap with bowl practice time. Last year, the Bruins began practicing 13 days before the Alamo Bowl. There’s a chance that the school could push to appear in a different bowl — perhaps the Cactus Bowl on Jan. 2.

Saccenti said that the academic calendar has been an issue for teams in the past, but that he has not yet discussed the issue with UCLA.

“We tend to have that situation come up a lot based on us being an early game,” he said. “What we’ve done is, we’ve always tried to work with the school to try and make the best arrangements possible, whether it be allowing them to come in the last minute before our event start, or setting up a couple of extra rooms as makeshift classrooms or study rooms.”

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  • VB

    Anything other than a Playoff, Rose Bowl, Alamo Bowl and Holiday bowl doesn’t really matter. It’s almost better if they just decline the bowl game. The players don’t want to play in it and the fans could care less.

    Regroup and focus on next season. Let’s figure out how to avoid losing 2-4 games per year that we should be winning.

    • CaliGrown

      How does the Alamo and Holiday bowl differ from all the other irrelevant bowls? It’s playoffs / Rose Bowl or nothing!

      That being said I always enjoy bowl season and I will be watching the final game for the Bruins as will you most likely.

      • VB

        They differ for a few reasons.

        1) In the Alamo and Holiday bowls, you are most likely playing a ranked or almost ranked team (see last year when we played #12 K-State and the year before when we played Baylor). In the lower bowl games, you are playing .500 Power 5 teams or mid-majors.

        2) Tradition: The Alamo Bowl and Holiday Bowl are respected in name. Years from now when we look back on UCLA’s bowl history, a win in the Alamo or Holiday Bowl is going to be recognizable over a win in the Foster Farms Chicken Nugget or Royal Purple Sin City Coke Snorters Bowl.

        3) Payouts. We receive more from the bowls and television revenue for the Alamo and Holiday than we do for the lower bowls.

        At the end of the day, you are right, the Rose Bowl is the ultimate prize. But I did enjoy watching the Alamo Bowl last year and the Holiday Bowl two years ago, knowing that we were rebuilding. Now, I’m hungry for more.

        • CaliGrown

          Fair enough especially with points 1 and 3. Personally I’m hoping for the Vegas bowl just to give me a reason to get out there and party with my UCLA. Unless we play BYU again then never mind.

  • Just Owns

    Jimbo deserve the Chicken Bowl. He and the Mazzone Lemons will be in preferred their coup.

  • fromela

    Posters are forgetting the value of the 15 or so bowl practices to jumpstart the start of next season. Especially for the younger players, Those redshirting or playing backup roles. So any bowl game will be good.

    • Paul

      Agree re extra practice, but another loss (realistic possibility if players not sufficiently motivated by a Tier III bowl against an opponent hungry to make a statement against a name opponent) would not be a good start to next season…

  • Laker Rod

    How about for the bowl game UCLA puts Josh Rosen under center at times and UCLA lines up FUP or Moala as a tight end with Iese at fullback. Allow Starks and/or Soso or even Bolu to run out of the I formation some.

    • 88 Straight

      That I agree with. Mazzone will never do that. It isn’t part of his system or scheme. I am sure Kennedy Polamalu would love to see that. Maybe he should be considered for the job.

      • Laker Rod

        You may be right for the first time 🙂 Mazzone may never do it. I guess he can’t do it either with Fred Ulu-Perry since he left the team for now. 🙁 What’s up that?

        Disturbing. I’m concerned the coaches are selling too many recruits with possible early playing time. It’s not working.

        • 88 Straight

          Talk about changing the subject! You are a one trick “redshirting” pony. And, Mazzone is too stubborn to change if you want to stay on this topic. Maybe it is time to give Kennedy Polamalu a larger role on the staff with a pay raise. The kids he coaches tend to improve.

          • Laker Rod

            What are you talking about changing the subject. I made suggestions as to what UCLA should do for the bowl game. Will Mazzone do it? You said no….and I have to some what agree but it appears his job is on the line.
            And giving KP a larger role is just pure dumb. He’s not an OC.

          • 88 Straight

            He was the OC at USC However, Kiffin would not relinquish play calling to his OC. That was a huge source of conflict between the two of them.

          • Laker Rod

            LOL!! Stupid. Pola was not OC. Wake up. Kiffin called the plays and you know it. You even admitted it. Pola was a puppet OC just like how Kelly Skipper was back in 2002 for UCLA. We all know Bob Toledo designed and called the plays. Wake up.

            You continually show you don’t know what you are talking about.

            Having KP as OC would be a disaster. Look at what happened to Ohio State this year after their OC left.

            You and certain other Bruin fans just don’t get it. It takes years to be a good offensive coordinator and it’s tough even remaining a good one.

            Good offensive coordinators are innovative and adapt to the times. Mazzone has been stubborn in his ways but we are better off trying to get him to install some different formations and schemes vs going with a brand new offensive coordinator. It usually takes one entire year + to get used to the system and excel in it. Took Tom Cable and UCLA that one extra year. In 2004, things started to turn around for UCLA and for junior Drew Olson but things finally clicked in 2005.

          • 88 Straight

            Once again inventing your own facts. Everyone knows Kiffin called the plays. Take a look at his resume’. He was listed as the OC. You simply don’t like facts. You said he has never been an OC and the truth is that he has been an OC. He wasn’t the guy calling the plays.

            You still argue that Adams is a starter! You just keep inventing your own facts just like you invented having a woman! LOLiar!

          • Laker Rod

            You invented your own facts. Claiming Kennedy Polamalu has been an
            “OC”. LOL!!! Puppet OC at best and you know it. KP is a “running
            backs” coach just like how Kelly Skipper was and neither did an
            outstanding job in their lone one year term. Wake up.

            For your info here is Clay Helton’s info at Memphis from 2000-2009. He first started as a running backs coach for 3 years. He then coached the
            receivers for the next 4 years. He then was the OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR
            and QB coach for the last 3 years at Memphis. Memphis produced good
            numbers too. Look it up.

            He was then hired as the OC and QB coach at Arkansas State prior to leaving and going to USC. Helton is a former QB himself.

            Helton then came on board to USC in 2010 and was the QB coach for 6 years and he was even the interim head coach for one game. He was passing game coordinator in 2012. He was promoted to OC in 2013 at USC. Kiffin was fired in September so it’s obvious Helton was the true OC in 2013 since Orgeron was the DC and interim head coach.

            Nothing ever works for you.

            This is why the USC top guys were comfortable with letting Sarkisian go. It’s obvious Helton was more than capable of running the
            offense. He has way more experience and a proven track record than
            Polamalu.

            Man. Shaking head. You got clobbered again.

            And you lost related to Ish Adams also. YOU ARE ALWAYS WRONG.

            Just once don’t you wish that something turns out right for you. You claim all this about Marcus Rios but he didn’t have a stellar season and you know it. He didn’t surpass what Ish Adams did the year before. Adams
            was 1st team all conference.

            Josh Rosen. If the Bruins were the conference championship game you may have something but it didn’t turn out that way for you did it. When the moment was big against USC…Rosen played just like a TRUE FRESHMAN. 5-4 record. UNRANKED. Worst season for Mora in his 4th year too. How does all this end up working out for me? It’s because I know MORE THAN YOU and others.

            Since you and others have been made a FOOL of you want to put the blame on Mazzone. LOL!!!

            You still in denial? Which true frosh excelled for UCLA this season? Fred Ulu-Perry? LOL!!! Meadors? LOL!!!

            Wake up! It takes time to develop as a player. You’re like baby who needs his candy immediately. No patience whatsoever.

            There are still uneducated Bruin fans who are waiting for next year and think guys like Wariboko or Andre James will replace guys on the O line and that will fix the problem. They are assuming guys like Howard will take over at wide receiver. LOL!!! They think Lucier-South will win a starting position. Same with Wade. Talk about dumb! Some people simply NEVER learn.

            I repeat…do it like Stanford. I don’t see USC beating Stanford in the championship game. USC has too much youth and not enough depth to beat Stanford. This time USC is not going up against a team stupid enough to play a true frosh QB. Stanford has a redshirt senior QB.

            You want to take USC? You think they will just win with their “talent out of HS”? And remember…UCLA is not USC. Our players have to study. Wake up.

          • 88 Straight

            Look it up. Polamalu was OC. Helton was OC. Adams got beat out.

            Make up what you want. You have no idea how things were delegated at SC other than play calling.

          • Laker Rod

            Polamalu was NOT an OC in substance even by your own admission. You then tried to worm your way out of your mistake by claiming Clay Helton was the same but I clearly showed you how Helton was even a true OC previously and even at USC since Kiffin got fired and Orgeron the DC took over as head coach. Polamalu doesn’t have anything close to what even Helton has and you know it.

            Are you Bruin Brian over at BruinGold. Some nut made the suggestion for KP as OC and nobody seems to like the idea.

            So all you do is try to change the subject again about how like Adams got beat out but yet you can’t deal with the fact that Ish was 1st team all conference in 2014 and Rios could only muster up honorable mention and had no big plays. Heck..even Ish had the 94 yard TD return which save the game for UCLA against Colorado. Colorado was about to score 7 points but Ish took it to the house. 14 point swing.

            You can’t win anything…so of course back to your inflatable doll type comments. You need to seek help. You have some type of warped addiction since you constantly bring it up.

          • 88 Straight

            Helton didn’t call plays at SC either, until this year. Simple point that the virgin troll can’t see.

          • Laker Rod

            WRONG! Helton called the played when Kiffin got fired. Wake up. YOU ARE ALWAYS WRONG.

            Polamalu never called any plays. You tried to claim Helton was just as inexperienced. WRONG! Amazing how dumb you are suggesting KP should be OC. LOL!!

          • 88 Straight

            Yes, we all knew that. You are hilarious. The virgin troll. Make a list now!

          • Laker Rod

            LOL!!! You realized you were WRONG yet again. You tried to compare Polamalu to Helton thinking they were the same. LOL!!! You think KP should be OC. LOL!!!

            Do some research first before opening your big mouth. You continually prove how uneducated you are related to college football. Face it. You get clobbered every time.

            I told you Stanford was going to beat USC. You will probably now say that was obvious. LOL!! That’s all you ever do. Monday Morning QB. You didn’t predict who would win like I did. All you do is blindly take UCLA. LOL!!

            If you go by your stupid motto of how “High School Talent” is the most important factor in winning…then it’s obvious that USC should have won not Stanford.

            Now that Stanford has won again in the last 3 of 4 years…DO YOU FINALLY ADMIT I WAS RIGHT AND UCLA AND THE COACHES SHOULD FOLLOW WHAT STANFORD IS DOING?

            It’s quite simple you know. Instead of having Fred Ulu-Perry play a primary role of offensive guard…have him come in for certain power packages. Yeah…I know also that certain high school talent want to play right away..well…this satisfies this criteria..right? It allows them to play but in a more limited role they can handle. Mora/Klemm have found a way to blow yet another true frosh recruit/transfer. I get the impression FUP was not focusing on his studies and he quit right before finals. Amazing how the coaches don’t makes sure the player’s academics are in order prior to playing them as a true frosh. FUP enrolled in summer 2015 right? So he had one quarter under his belt already. Not all grades were out since we didn’t learn of Craig Lee’s situation until around the 3rd game or so but the coaches seemed to have already known the deal which is why they had Soso and Bolu ready to go since Manfro was iffy way back then and even Starks was banged up.

            The coaches need to get the right players (especially linemen) who have the right mindset and realize that they will probably need a year in the weight room to contribute heavily. After their 2nd year they will most likely start.

            Your motto of play/start the best players regardless of class HAS FAILED. This does NOT work…especially from a year in and year out standpoint. The point you continually miss is that if your best player is a true frosh…then you must NOT be very good. WAKE UP. Any coach/assistant coaches who has to rely on a true frosh ESPECIALLY at QUARTERBACK and in his/their 4th year should send up all kinds of red flags.

            Sure a true frosh can play/start at running back or wide receiver or defensive back…but it’s only one spot. These are rotational spots too. Even a pass rushing defensive end who is a true frosh will work so long as they are only rushing the passer and playing in certain situations.

            If you have true frosh O linemen and D linemen who are trying to play every down…FORGET it. That true frosh would need to be surrounded by a bunch of veterans in order for it to have slim chance.

            Where were the true frosh for Stanford? Can you name any?

            You can’t even argue about this topic anymore because you got slaughtered. Nobody is helping you either because anybody who has been following any of this realizes I was right.

          • 88 Straight

            Nobody reads all this drivel from you, virgin troll.

          • Laker Rod

            LOL!!! YOU WERE WRONG. You don’t even deny it. Nothing you can come back with. Oh brother. Like taking candy from a baby. Too easy

          • 88 Straight

            Live the fantasy, like your fantasy wife. Sheer delusion from the virgin troll.

          • Laker Rod

            LOL!!! You were WRONG! You don’t even deny it. LOL!!!

            If he didn’t call the plays then Polamalu was no OC. Wake up. LOL!!!

          • 88 Straight

            There is more to being an OC than calling plays. Helton was OC under Sark last year and didn’t call plays. Maybe Mazzone should let someone else call plays as he isn’t a very imaginative play caller.

            Maybe you should be the one. Although your football knowledge is limited to creating lists from Google searches, you were imaginative enough to create an imaginary wife.

          • Laker Rod

            LOL!! Now you’re claiming there is more to OC than calling plays. LOL!!! So I’ll guess we have Jim Mora calling plays then? LOL!!!

            Face it. You goofed recommending KP and you know it. YOU HAVE MADE A FOOL OF YOURSELF YET AGAIN. LOL!!!

          • 88 Straight

            Obviously you are unaware that the OC is responsible for the offensive scheme and philosophy. The OC is responsible for the playbook and for game planning. It is much more than just play calling. You have no idea of how well KP would do in the job. I guarantee that he knows far more than you and could establish a much better running game than UCLA has under Mazzone and might actually run some I formation. He has years of experience as a football coach. You are a Google virgin troll.

          • Laker Rod

            LOL!!! More twisting around by you. YOU are the claiming Kennedy Pola is more than qualified as an OC but then you had to admit he didn’t even call the plays. LOL!!!

            How about at least hiring a replacement who has game planned AND called plays, etc. We don’t need any recommendations from a dummy like you. LOL!!!

          • 88 Straight

            So you are denying your own words? Retread them if you haven’t already deleted or edited them. Typical of you. Virgin troll.

          • Laker Rod

            Denying own words. LOL!!! Talk about dumb. KP is a position RB’s coach. That’s it and he’s a good one at that. He’s no offensive coordinator. Wake up. We don’t need your stupid ideas.

          • 88 Straight

            So now you are denying that you said that all on Offensive Coordinator does is call plays?

          • Laker Rod

            LOL!!! Talk about desperation. Face it. You made a FOOL of yourself yet again. Polamalu for OC? LOL!!! I repeat…we don’t need your dumb ideas.

          • 88 Straight

            Deflecting again. All an OC does is call plays according to you! LOL Talk about dumb.

            Then there is Neuheisel over Rosen and Brehaut or Prince over Hundley! You are one funnily little virgin troll.

          • Laker Rod

            Deflecting. LOL!!! You are the master at that. All you do is LIE.

            1. I never claimed or said all an OC does is “call plays”. You are a LIAR and you known it. YOU are the one who thinks calling plays for a supposed OC is not important.

            2. You deflect yet again and make up more lies claiming I said to start Neuheisel over Rosen and Brehaut/Prince over Hundley from a “talent” perspective. LOL! What a liar you are. The whole point in them starting over Rosen/Hundley was so that we would have Rosen/Hundley for an additional year and you know it.

            You have nothing so all you do is lie with your accusations.

            YOU ARE ONCE AGAIN WRONG in your position. Kennedy Polamalu is not a better option than Noel Mazzone. Just when I think you have hit bottom in your dumbness you go 5 levels lower. LOL!! Bottomless pit for you. AH HA HA HA!!

          • 88 Straight

            Go back and read your comments again. That is EXACTLY what you said. The ONLY thing you are capable of is creating lists, not evaluating talent or having any real knowledge. You have been EXPOSED as a fraud again, Virgin Troll.

  • jameskatt

    The Foster Farms Bowl bowl looks appetizing, easy to drive to. It would be a day-trip for me. No need to waste money on a hotel.