Holiday Bowl Preview: Baylor Bears and UCLA Bruins

Holiday Bowl Preview

Jerome Miron / Kyle Terada – USA Today Sports

The Baylor Bears and the UCLA Bruins will face off in the 2012 Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. It will be the first of three bowls that have a Big 12 team against a Pac-12 team.

The two programs have never faced each other, and UCLA head coach Jim Mora admitted that he didn’t know a whole lot about Baylor at first other than saying, “I know RG3 went there.”

Baylor started the season okay in their first three games, but then hit a four-game losing skid. Only after coming back and putting together a 4-1 performance in their last five games–one of which being a win over the then-No. 1 Kansas State Wildcats– have they qualified for the Holiday Bowl.

UCLA’s route has been much different, falling to the Oregon State Beavers and the California Golden Bears before rattling off five straight wins, two of which were over ranked opponents as well, beating the No. 22 Arizona Wildcats and the No. 18 USC Trojans.

Both teams are about even as far as the run goes, averaging over 200 yards per-game apiece. But when it comes to individual performers, you have to talk about UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin who has rushed for an extremely impressive 1,700 yard and 13 touchdowns on the ground.

Don’t try and mention solid individuals without also mentioning Baylor quarterback Nick Florence. Florence has thrown for an unreal 4,121 yards and 31 touchdowns on the season. His favorite go-to target, Terrance Williams, has 1,764 of those yards to his credit.

Going into this game all UCLA is going to hear is how great Baylor’s offense is and how they’re going to get destroyed by a powerful Baylor offense, but Baylor is one of the worst–117th in fact–teams in the country in allowing points. UCLA will have no problem going into a shootout and feels confident they will be able to keep up.

Although UCLA clearly has the better record, I have to go with Baylor to win this game. Their form has looked solid since their win over Kansas State. UCLA has played extremely well as well, but are going to be facing a team that is a much more dangerous scoring threat. I have Baylor on top 54-42

Dan Irwin is a sports writer for Rant Sports.  Follow him on Twitter @ danirwin_rant or on Facebook at “facebook.com/danirwin.sports“.

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