Baylor vs. UCLA (-3, 81.5)
BRIDGEPORT EDUCATION HOLIDAY BOWL STORYLINES
1. UCLA, ranked 19th, is looking for a 10-win season for the first time since 2005 as first-year coach Jim Mora has engineered an impressive turnaround. Baylor is playing in a third straight bowl game for the first time in school history and is also playing a bowl game outside the state of the Texas for the initial time.
2. The Holiday Bowl has a reputation for offensive fireworks and the Bruins and Bears should only add to the bowl’s lore. Baylor leads the nation in total offense at 578.8 yards per game and ranks fifth in scoring (44.1). UCLA is 20th in total offense (474.5) and 28th in scoring (35.1). Both teams have been very shaky defending the pass.
3. UCLA senior running back Johnathan Franklin is ninth in the nation in rushing yards per game (130.8) and is the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,369 career yards. Baylor allows 190.8 rushing yards per game, so there will be opportunities for Franklin to conclude his career in style.
TV: 9:45 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE: UCLA -3, O/U 81.5
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the low-50s and clear skies at Qualcomm Stadium. Winds will blow out of the NW at 5 mph.
CONSENSUS: Just over 50 percent of Covers Consensus players believe Baylor will cover.
* Bears are 5-0 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Bruins are 4-1 ATS in their last five games vs. a team with a winning record.
* Over is 6-0 in Bruins’ last six games overall.
* Over is 4-1 in Bears’ last five neutral site games.
ABOUT BAYLOR (7-5, 4-5 Big 12): Senior quarterback Nick Florence was up to the arduous task of replacing Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and leads the nation in total offense at 387.7 yards per game. Florence has passed for 4,121 yards and 31 touchdowns while being intercepted 13 times. He has a superb target in senior receiver Terrance Williams, who set a school-record with 1,764 receiving yards. Williams has 12 touchdowns among his 95 receptions. Sophomore running back Lache Seastrunk (874 yards) has played well down the stretch. Sophomore middle linebacker Bryce Hager has a team-leading 115 tackles, which leads the Big 12. Junior weak-side linebacker Eddie Lackey has a team-high four interceptions and returned two of them for touchdowns.
ABOUT UCLA (9-4, 6-3 Pac-12): The Bruins are coming off back-to-back losses to Stanford – the latter in the Pac-12 championship game – after winning five consecutive games. Franklin has rushed for a school-record 1,700 yards and was a runner-up for the Doak Walker Award won by Wisconsin’s Montee Ball. Redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley has completed 68.2 percent of his passes for 3,411 yards and 26 touchdowns. He has been intercepted 11 times. Junior outside linebacker Anthony Barr is a force with 20.5 tackles for loss – including 13.5 sacks – and four forced fumbles. Sophomore inside linebacker Eric Kendricks has a team-best 137 tackles while senior cornerback Sheldon Price and senior safety Andrew Abbott share the team lead with four interceptions.