Kansas State meets UCLA in the Cactus Bowl
PHOENIX (AP) — Cactus Bowl: UCLA (6-6) vs. Kansas State (7-5), Dec. 26, 9 p.m. Eastern (ESPN).
Line: Kansas State by 6 1/2.
Series Record: UCLA leads 2-1, beat the Wildcats 40-35 in the 2015 Alamo Bowl the last time.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
UCLA is playing its final game under interim coach Jedd Fisch before former Oregon and Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly takes over the program. Kansas State is closing out its 26th season under Bill Snyder, who has not decided if he will return next season.
UCLA’s defense vs. K-State QB Skylar Thompson. The Bruins can put up a lot of points on offense, but also are among the worst in FBS in allowing them, tied for 117th at 36.8 points allowed per game. Thompson, a redshirt freshman, started the season as K-State’s third-string quarterback, but has played well since taking over the No. 1 spot. In the final three games, he threw for 515 yards and four touchdowns on 38-of-60 passing, adding 158 rushing yards and two more scores. Slowing him will be key for UCLA.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kansas State: CB D.J. Reed. The junior is a playmaker on defense and special teams. He is second nationally in kick returns with a 35.3-yard average and has four interceptions.
UCLA: QB Josh Rosen. The Cactus Bowl could be Rosen’s final college game, or he may have already played it. The star quarterback might not play in the bowl game because of concussion concerns. So his finale could have been a win over California on Nov. 24, a game in which he sat out the second half because of injuries. Of course, Rosen could also decide to return to the Bruins.
FACTS & FIGURES
The Cactus Bowl will be played at Chase Field, home of baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks, for the third straight season. The bowl was temporarily moved as Arizona State’s Sun Devil Stadium undergoes renovations. ... Kansas State has played in eight straight bowl games. ... UCLA is playing in a bowl game after missing the postseason a year ago. The Bruins last bowl was the 2015 Foster Farms. ... Kansas State’s Byron Pringle leads the nation in yards per catch at 25.18. ... UCLA WR Jordan Lasley had 29 catches for 593 yards his last 3 games.