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. Continue reading

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Myles Jack finds out that, yes, he did notch a sack as a true freshman

All-everything linebacker Myles Jack is good at a lot of things, but he wants to be a better pass rusher.

“I feel like things have slowed down,” he said. “I understand the angles, what I need to do in certain situations more with a year under my belt. Watching film this offseason, I understand more what I need to do. Hopefully it’s going to transpire this year. That’s really what I’m working on, to get a sack this year. One at least.

“I didn’t get one last year. I was kind of upset about that.”

Didn’t you sneak one sack in at the end of UCLA’s last season?

“Almost did.”

But Myles, you were credited with one in the Sun Bowl. There it is on the box score: In the third quarter, on 2nd-and-12 at the UCLA 30-yard line, you sacked Mark Leal for eight yards.

“Oh, I did? Oh, OK. I’ll take that.”

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UCLA wearing black ‘L.A. Midnight’ alternates

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UCLA is breaking out its black “L.A. Midnight” alternates for the Sun Bowl, which likely makes most of the Bruins very happy.

A couple of pieces for pre-game reading:
— Two former Bruins have fond memories of the 2005 Sun Bowl.
— Jill Painter’s column on UCLA’s good behavior in El Paso.

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Jim Mora ‘hopeful’ Brett Hundley will stay at UCLA

After UCLA’s win over USC on Nov. 30, head coach Jim Mora seized the moment. During a live postgame interview, he attempted to rope star quarterback Brett Hundley into committing to another year in college.

It didn’t work — Hundley demurred on his NFL draft decision — but a month later, Mora remained optimistic heading into a Sun Bowl matchup against Virginia Tech.

Asked today if he’s thought about the redshirt sophomore potentially playing his final game as a Bruin, the coach said: “I don’t think it will be. I’m very hopeful it won’t be.”

Earlier this week, Hundley said he had not yet received feedback from the NFL draft advisory board, and remains uncertain about his future. Continue reading

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