Kansas State and UCLA haven’t had good seasons by any means, but this one should prove to be plenty fun and high scoring. While the Bruins players try and impress new coach Chip Kelly, the Wildcats still have Bill Snyder as their coach for now. The Wildcats were early -2 point favorites as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Cactus Bowl in Arizona.
It hasn’t been easy to decipher this UCLA team, partly due to Josh Rosen’s injuries and because they haven’t won a road Game all season. The defense was a problem no matter the opponent and the only reason the Bruins were able to reach six wins was because of Rosen.
K State wasn’t any easier to read, having lost early Games to Vandy and Texas and then closing with Four wins in five Games. Road wins at Texas Tech and OK State stand out to go with the season finale win over Iowa State on the last play.
Neither one of these teams has a good defense so points should be expected, similar to almost every UCLA Game this season. The Bruins gave up an astronomical 282 rushing yards per Game on 5.7 yards per carry. That’s not going to work against a Kansas State offense that’s run-first with a mobile quarterback. Freshman Skylar Thompson looks like the QB of the future for the Wildcats and he’s turned things around in recent Games, namely with his 297 total yards and Four touchdowns in the OK State win. If he finds room on the ground with running back Alex Barnes, there’s no reason the Wildcats can’t put points on the board. This is almost the perfect matchup for their offense.
But on the other end, it’s a similar situation. K State is actually solid against the run, but has given up 310 passing yards per Game. While a lot of that has to do with playing in the Big 12, it’s still not a good stat. That goes hand-in-hand with a UCLA offense led by Josh Rosen.
Rosen dealt with a shoulder injury most of the season, but should be ready for this one in his final Game ahead of the NFL Draft. He posted respectable numbers with 26 touchdowns and 10 picks, but more was expected of him in his collegiate career. He’s still a guy that can carve up defenses with top targets Jordan Lasley (1,136 yards, 8 TDs) and Darren Andrews (773 yards, 10 TDs) likely headed for big Games. Bolu Olorunfunmi and Soso Jamabo have each averaged more than five yards per carry, but it’s a wonder if they’ll even try and run against this defense that’s giving up 3.6 yards per carry.
The over/under was only 63.5 in early December and that could rise. The only reason to consider the under is if UCLA’s defense plays on another level in order to impress Kelly. Still, Jedd Fisch, the team’s offensive coordinator, is the interim coach for this Game. But at the end of the day, this could be Snyder’s final Game as Kansas State’s coach (probably not) and the players will undoubtedly want to send him out on a high.
The Wildcats are 1-5 ATS in their last six against the Pac-12 and 2-7 ATS in their last nine bowl Games. The Bruins are 1-7 ATS in their last eight non-Conference Games. UCLA’s only road cover of the season came in the USC Game, while KSU won its final three road Games, two of them as underdogs.
Our Pick – Kansas St -6.5