UCLA can achieve back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since 1997-98 by beating Kansas State in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Friday. The Times’ Chris Foster takes a look at the matchups and story lines.
Kansas State defensive coordinator Tom Hayes assessed the UCLA offense, saying, “They do a lot of the same things that members of the Big 12 do on offense.”
That might not be a good thing for the Wildcats, who have had trouble with creative quarterbacks running up-tempo offenses in the Big 12 this season.
Baylor’s Bryce Petty completed 34 of 40 passes for 412 yards in a 38-27 victory. Texas Christian’s Trevone Boykin threw for 219 yards and ran for 123 in a 41-20 victory.
Now the Wildcats get a gander at UCLA’s Brett Hundley.
“He can move around in the pocket, that’s something we have had trouble with,” defensive lineman Ryan Mueller said.
So, Hayes said, “what we have to do is make him uncomfortable.”
That has been the blueprint for teams that beat the Bruins this season. UCLA has allowed 38 sacks, with Hundley taking 35 of them.
“That statistic is certainly an eye-opener,” Mueller said.
UCLA’s offense has 45 touchdowns this season; 12 have covered 33 or more yards.
“When you’re an up-tempo guy, you want to score in like three plays,” UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. “If you don’t, you start getting impatient.”
Mazzone said that the Kansas State defense “bends a little bit, but they don’t break a lot.”
He told his players, “We have to stay on schedule and just keep ourselves on the field.”
The Wildcats have allowed teams into the red zone only 35 times this season. The Bruins are second nationally in red-zone offense, coming away with points 44 of 47 times.
Not a grind
In 1989, Kansas State did not have a running back with a 100-yard game. It was the only time in Coach Bill Snyder’s’ 23 seasons in Manhattan that has happened . . . until 2014.
The Wildcats lack that workhorse back this season. Charles Jones leads the team with 521 yards rushing.
Quarterback Jake Waters had provided some relief in the running game, with 138 yards against Iowa State and 105 against Texas Tech. But a late-season shoulder injury kept Waters from running. He had only 67 yards rushing in the last four games.
Waters is believed to have healed, and Kansas State has a senior-heavy offensive line. UCLA has allowed 200 or more yards rushing five times this season.
Out of character
Kansas State had success going downfield. Waters became only the second quarterback in school history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season (3,163). His 20 touchdown passes tied a school record.
Waters has two creative receivers in Tyler Lockett (93 receptions for 1,351 yards) and Curry Sexton (69, 955).
UCLA has a 6-4-1 record in bowl games against teams ranked higher. The Bruins, though, have lost three consecutive bowl games to higher-ranked opponents.
The Bruins lost to No. 19 Brigham Young, 17-16, in the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl; to No. 11 Kansas, 51-30, in the 1995 Aloha Bowl, and to No. 9 Wisconsin, 21-16, in the Rose Bowl to finish the 1993 season. UCLA’s last bowl victory over a higher-ranked team came against No. 8 Arkansas, 17-3, in the Cotton Bowl to finish the 1988 season.
Kansas State is 11th and UCLA 14th heading into the Alamo Bowl.
Kansas State beat Marquette, 3-0, on Oct. 6, 1939. The next day, Snyder, its current coach, was born.
The Wildcats had a 120-377-9 record from that point until Snyder took over the program in 1989. They had only four winning seasons, no conference titles and went to one bowl game — a 14-13 loss to Wisconsin in the 1982 Independence Bowl — in those 51 seasons.
Snyder, in two stints as coach, has a 187-93-1 record with four conference titles, and is appearing in his 16th bowl game.