The UCLA Bruins may be facing their toughest test of the season on Thursday when they take on the red-hot Baylor Bears in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. College football experts didn’t foresee the Bruins putting together a 9 win season based on how difficult their schedule was, but they managed to take down several top tiered opponents along the way and are now playing in a reputable bowl game against a worthy opponent.
The Bears stubbed their toe a bit midway through the season with 4 consecutive losses to West Virginia, TCU, Texas and Iowa St, but they rallied over their last 5 games winning 4 of 5. Five consecutive ATS covers is a solid representation of how well this team is playing, and their 7 point win over a highly touted Oklahoma St team in the final week of the regular season impressed everyone. Passing the ball is what Baylor thrives on as they finished the year ranked 3rd in division 1 football in that category. Nick Florence has a vast array of talented players to get the ball to down field including what many NCAA football experts believe to be the best NFL prospect at that position. Terrance Williams shredded defenses all season long with his speed and agility. His 1764 yards receiving was amongst the best in the nation, and his 18.6 yards per catch made it hard to slow this high octane offense down.
UCLA finished the year on a sour note losing back to back games to the Stanford Cardinal, and will need to summon some motivation to keep pace with the Bears and somehow win this game. Brett Hundley took the controls of the offense right out of the gate, and has led the Bruins offense since the first game of the year. He may be just a freshman, but he’s proven to be one of the best young QB’s in the college game. Unlike Florence, Hundley doesn’t have the luxury of throwing the ball to top flight receivers, but running back Johnathan Franklin has a way of making any quarterback look good. Franklin has finally gained the recognition that he deserves with a brilliant senior season that has seen him rush for 1700 yards and 13 touchdowns. He will need to be at his best Thursday evening to maintain an offensive flow for UCLA while keeping the Bears offense off of the field.
Both of these squads have the potential to light up the scoreboard, and that is exactly what college football handicappers are anticipating as they have listed the over/under for this contest at 82. Tune in tonight as 2 of the most under-rated teams in the country look to finish strong and get a leg-up heading into the 2013 season.