Holiday Bowl: Baylor 49, UCLA 26

Well, that was certainly an ugly game.

What went wrong: Just about everything, but the most glaring was the porous offensive line. Jake Brendel and Torian White both left the game in the first half with high ankle sprains, which forced Brett Downey into his first action in months. Simon Goines also played sparingly, still bugged by a bad right knee. He’ll undergo surgery in the next week or so.

“I think Baylor recognized that we were down, not a man, but two men, and they pinned their ears back and came at us,” head coach Jim Mora said. “It was working. When it’s working and going effectively, you stay with it. We’ve got to build depth at that position and that’s one of our goals.”

Brett Hundley set a UCLA bowl appearance record with 50 pass attempts, which really underscores how one-dimensional the Bruins’ offense looked at Qualcomm Stadium. His previous high was 47 in the 43-17 loss to Cal. In nine wins this season, Hundley averaged 30 attempts. Continue reading

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Holiday Bowl: How do UCLA and Baylor match up?

UCLA offense vs. Baylor defense: Although they give up more yards than every team in the country except Louisiana Tech, the Bears aren’t the second-worst defense in the college football. Baylor has won four of its past five games because it suddenly discovered the ability to force turnovers. In that span, the Bears grabbed 11 of their 18 interceptions on the season. (Meanwhile, quarterback Nick Florence threw just two picks.) However, this still doesn’t mean that Baylor is a particularly good defense. Only two teams in the Big 12 give up more yards per play than the Bears, which partly negates the argument that their numbers are bad due to the offenses they face.

Though Brett Hundley has thrown a pick in three of this past four games, he is still just 60 yards away from Cade McNown’s single-season passing record and could crack that by the end of the first quarter. Johnathan Franklin could conceivably get 300 yards to hit 2,000 on the season. (Great stat, courtesy of ESPN: Franklin averages 4 yards after contact on fourth-quarter rushes. He averages just 2.1 per carry in the first three quarters.) Edge: UCLA

Baylor offense vs. UCLA defense: Florence isn’t the superstar Robert Griffin III was Continue reading

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Art Briles, on Jim Mora

From today’s press conference, what the Baylor coach knew about Jim Mora before starting Holiday Bowl prep:

“Playoffs?! I knew about his daddy. Playoffs? That’s one of the classics. That’s instant credibility. You know right there. And then when you get to looking at his past and what he’s done — like I said, I did not know him personally — it’s very impressive. I’m little ol’ West Texas country boy fightin’ to hang on to a high school job and he’s coaching the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. There’s a lot of difference in the paths to where we’re at. He’s done a tremendous job. He’s known as a good disciplinarian and a player’s coach. … He’s a good man. He’s a family man.”

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UCLA vs. Baylor in Holiday Bowl

Kickoff is 6:45 p.m. on Dec. 27 at Qualcomm Stadium. It’s also on ESPN if you’re not available to make the trip. Johnathan Franklin and Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams are featured at the top of the official site banner.

It’s certainly no Rose Bowl, but the Holiday Bowl is shaping up for a return to its traditional shootout ways. (The scores of the past three games have been 21-10, 19-7, and 33-0.) Baylor ranks No. 1 in the country in total offense, while the No. 17 Bruins are No. 20.

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