Nebraska coach Mike Riley praises UCLA QB Josh Rosen

Nebraska coach Mike Riley hasn’t had a chance to scout UCLA in depth yet, but knew the reputation of at least one player: Josh Rosen.

Riley will be coaching against the Bruins and their “outstanding freshman quarterback” — as he said of Rosen on Monday — on Dec. 26 in the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara. The former Oregon State coach recently talked to Washington’s Chris Petersen, who said of Rosen: “That guy is for real.”

Riley’s Nebraska tenure started off with a loss thanks to another freshman quarterback in BYU’s Tanner Mangum. Relieving injured starter Taysom Hill, Mangum ended his debut appearance with a 42-yard Hail Mary, giving the Cougars a 33-28 win in Lincoln, Neb.

Mangum finished the regular season with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions, completing 62.1 percent of his passes for 3,062 yards. Rosen heads into his first bowl game with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions to go with 3,350 yards on 59.5 percent passing.

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First look: UCLA vs. Nebraska in Foster Farms Bowl

UCLA's 36-30 win over Nebraska in 2012 marked the first big victory of Jim Mora's tenure. Joe Fauria (left) is pictured celebrating one of his two touchdown catches. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA’s 36-30 win over Nebraska in 2012 marked the first big victory of Jim Mora’s tenure. Joe Fauria (left) is pictured celebrating one of his two touchdown catches. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

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.

Key players:

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 “First look: UCLA vs. Nebraska in Foster Farms Bowl” »

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UCLA to play Nebraska in Foster Farms Bowl

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.

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Pac-12 links: Oregon State’s Mike Riley is the conference’s coaching ‘godfather’

» In a conference filled with newcomers, Oregon State coach Mike Riley is heading into his 14th season in the Pac-12. “Mike’s kind of a godfather,” said Stanford’s David Shaw.

» Apparently no longer content with uniform experimentation, Oregon will debut scratch-and-sniff season tickets this year. Unfortunately, the sticker is a Carl’s Jr. ad and likely smells like burgers rather than ducks.

» A former ASU running back was found shot to death on a hiking trial near Sedona. Continue reading “Pac-12 links: Oregon State’s Mike Riley is the conference’s coaching ‘godfather’” »

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Pac-12 links: No bowl tickets for rude Washington State fans

— If you sent Washington State athletic director Bill Moos a particularly nasty email last year, you might not be able to buy bowl tickets.

— Trying to earn home field advantage for the Pac-12 title game, Arizona State and Todd Graham are learning to deal with the limelight.

— Still undecided about his NFL draft plans, Washington tailback Bishop Sankey is on the brink of the school’s single-season rushing record. Continue reading “Pac-12 links: No bowl tickets for rude Washington State fans” »

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