Baylor Bears Battle No. 17 UCLA Bruins in San Diego

Dale Perth | Updated Dec 26, 2012

Baylor quarterback Nick Florence is shown with Robert Griffin III.

Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl: Preview and Result

Some bowls are known for plenty of offense, and the Holiday Bowl certainly qualifies: five of the last six games have seen the combatants total 30 points or more. This all-ursine clash at Qualcomm Stadium on Thursday night promises to be no different.

It had to be intimidating for Baylor senior quarterback Nick Florence to follow in the footsteps of Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Florence has done very well, though, leading the college world in total yards (387.7 per game) to go with 4,131 passing yards and 31 touchdowns versus 13 interceptions. His favorite target is senior wide receiver Terrance Williams, who caught 95 passes, scored 12 TDs and established a new school mark this season with 1,764 yards — which was also the most yards by any NCAA receiver in 2012.

Unsurprisingly, their aerial assault has propelled Baylor to the top of the nation in total offense at 578.8 yards per game. What is a surprise is the running game: usually a staple of many college football teams, the ground attack is under-represented here as sophomore running back Lache Seastrunk has rushed for only 874 yards.

Jim Mora has also done well in his first year as head coach at UCLA. The former NFL head coach — Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks — and namesake son of retired head coach Jim (“Playoffs?!”) Mora, he has guided his team to a 9-4 record and is ranked 17th in the BCS rankings and the AP Top 25 poll. At 474.5 yards per game, the Bruins are 20th in total offense; they’re 28th in scoring with a healthy 35.1 points per game.

With an average of 130.8 rush yards per game, senior running back Jonathan Franklin is ranked ninth overall in the nation and has gained a school-record 1,700 yards. The Baylor defense which gives up 190.8 yards per game on the ground, so he must be licking his chops at the prospect of facing them. Calling the signals is redshirt freshman QB Brett Hundley, who has thrown for 3,411 yards and 26 TDs. The standouts on defense are outside linebacker Anthony Barr (13.5 sacks, four forced fumbles) and inside linebacker Eric Kendricks (137 tackles).

After winning five in a row, the Bruins finished the season with back-to-back losses including the Pac-12 championship game. Their pass defense is not very good, but Baylor’s pass coverage is also lacking. However, the Bears finished with a three-game winning streak and have built some momentum.

The line had UCLA as a 3.0-point favourite, and that’s likely due to a better defense as well as some credit for being closer to their own home field. But both of these teams have shown they can put points on the board in a hurry.

Prediction: UCLA 45, Baylor 38.

RESULT: One of these teams definitely did put points on the board in a hurry… and once again, the underdog prevailed as Baylor destroyed UCLA 49-26.