UCLA coach Jim Mora talked about the Bruins’ mindset to start bowl practices, kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn’s journey to becoming a Lou Groza Award winner, and what players have told him about potentially declaring early for the NFL draft.
UCLA Bruins (8-4, 5-4) vs. Nebraska (5-7, 3-5)
Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 26, 6:15 p.m., Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara)
TV: ESPN (Jason Benetti, Rod Gilmore, Shelley Smith)
Radio: AM 570 (Bill Roth, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)
Scouting report: Nebraska is one of three 5-7 teams to make a bowl game, due to the shortage of six-win teams available to fill 80 spots. The Cornhuskers had the highest APR of the available five-win teams in the country, which served as the tiebreaker. … However, Nebraska lost its first five games by a combined 13 points, falling behind in four in the final minute. If a few plays had broken differently, this could easily be a more respectable seven-win team. The Huskers also handed Michigan State its only loss of the year. … The matchup will pit Jim Mora against Mike Riley for just the second time. The former Oregon State coach handed Mora his first college loss in 2012. … Riley has had a rough first season at Nebraska, prompting athletic director to release a statement in early November assuring fans of “a bright future.”
Series history: The all-time series is tied at 6-6, but UCLA has won the two most recent meetings. The Bruins swept a home-and-home series, starting with a 36-30 home win in 2012 that helped jump-start excitement about the Mora era. The team’s 41-21 comeback on the road the following year followed the death of receiver Nick Pasquale, whom Cornhusker fans helped honor before kickoff.
QB Tommy Armstrong, Jr., 6-1, 220 — 210/383, 2,856 yards, 21 TD, 16 INT
— The dual-threat quarterback’s rushing numbers are down significantly in Riley’s pro-style offense, from 705 yards in 2014 to 324 this year. Continue reading
— Foster Farms Bowl (@FosterFarmsBowl) December 6, 2015
UCLA will end its season a day after Christmas.
The Bruins (8-4) have been officially picked to play in the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, with a 6:15 p.m. kickoff on Dec. 26 set against Nebraska (5-7). This will be UCLA’s third meeting with the Cornhuskers in four years, after sweeping a home-and-home series in 2012 and 2013.
Bowl officials have been high on the Bruins due to the school’s strong alumni presence in the Bay Area, as well as the close proximity that would allow fans in Los Angeles to drive up on the day of the game.
The matchup also pits fourth-year UCLA coach Jim Mora against Mike Riley for the second time. Riley handed Mora his first loss in the college ranks in 2012, when Oregon State defeated the Bruins, 27-20, at the Rose Bowl to open Pac-12 play.
Jim Mora talked about UCLA’s 40-21 loss to USC on Saturday, his first time finishing on the wrong side of the crosstown rivalry in four years with the Bruins.
“We came up short today, and it’s disappointing,” he said. “It’s a new feeling for us here.”