The 2012 incarnation of the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl is a matchup between the 9-4 UCLA Bruins and the 7-5 Baylor Bears. But don’t let the records fool you. these 2 teams are much closer than the records might indicate and it promises to be an exciting matchup with lots of star power.
What Baylor does-The Bears are all about the offense. On the season they scored around 44 points a game and rang the bell to the tune of 480 yards of offense. Their starting quarterback Nick Florence slings it all over the field and his favorite target, wide receiver Terrance Williams is one of the best in the nation. The Bears lean heavily on their ability to score in chunks as their defense has struggled to stop anyone. The Bears also found a running game late in the season as Oregon transfer running back Lache Seastrunk was finally given his opportunities and he made the most of them. Seastrunk is a dynamic back who could be breaking records at a school that featured him more.
What UCLA does-The bruins by contrast do play a little defense and it will be interesting to see if they can slow down the Bears high powered offense. The key will be for defensive end David Barr to get after Florence and hit him early and often. The Bruins offense has been effective and run heavy as they have a star running back in Jonathan Franklin. With the Bears inability to slow down even the most pedestrian offense, Franklin should be able to chew up big chunks of yardage.
What to expect-Last team with the ball will win. The Bruins might take a few more plays to score, but both of these teams are going to find pay dirt early and often. The Bears will be eating up yards through the air and UCLA will batter the Bears defense on the ground. It’s going to come down to which team can pressure and hit to the other team’s quarterback and where that timely turnover is going to come from.
The Prediction-I understand that to most pundits the Bruins are the better team and on both sides of the football it could be true. But something tells me the Bears are going to be ready to roll and that passing offense is going to be too much for the Bruins defense to keep up with. If that happens and the Bruins are forced to throw it, that removes their best player from the gameplan. Give me the Bears in a close game, 41-38.