Controversy swirled whether Nebraska, a team with a 5-7 record, should have earned an invitation to play in the Foster Farms Bowl.
And perhaps it’s UCLA that most wished the Cornhuskers were left out after the Bruins stumbled to a 37-29 defeat at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Saturday.
UCLA fell to an 8-5 finish and Nebraska improved to 6-7.
The Bruins took a 21-7 lead in the second quarter when Josh Rosen completed a 26-yard pass to Nate Starks for a touchdown.
But the Cornhuskers held the Bruins to just one yard of total offense in the third quarter and scored 30 unanswered points to take a 37-21 lead to start the fourth.
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. completed 12 of 19 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown while the Cornhuskers rushed for 326 yards and four touchdown in 62 carries.
Rosen completed 26 of 40 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns, with two interceptions.
Paul Perkins rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown in 12 carries.
Nebraska rushed for two first downs and took the victory formation to run out the clock, making the Cornhuskers a 5-7 team who earned a bowl bid and a bowl victory.
Josh Rosen, scrambling, was intercepted in the UCLA end zone by Chris Jones on fourth down.
Rosen completed an 11-yard pass to Kenneth Walker III and a five-yard pass to Darren Andrews to start the drive.
Rosen kept the Bruins moving with a third-down completion to Jordan Payton but then the drive stalled after three incompletions and the eventual interception.
UCLA’s offense will get another try to tie the game.
Nebraska rushed for one yard, threw an incompletion and then Ishmael Adams tackled Tommy Armstrong Jr. for a loss of 14 yards on third down.
Nebraska punted and UCLA will takeover at its own 46-yard line.
A rare miscue between Jake Brendel and Josh Rosen forced UCLA to attempt a field goal and then, a rare field goal miss by Ka’imi Fairbairn from 46 yards and the Bruins came up empty handed, down eight, with 5:46 left in the game.
Starting the drive, Rosen completed an eight-yard pass to Elridge Massington, a 14-yard pass to Darren Andrews and a 10-yard and 18-yard pass to Stephen Johnson.
But two incompletions and a premature snap by Brendel forced the field goal attempt that was missed.
Kenny Clark disrupted Nebraska’s offense, made two tackles, and the Cornhuskers punted.
UCLA will start at its own 27-yard line.
Nebraska 37, UCLA 29 -- 11:29 left in the fourth quarter
Quarterback Josh Rosen took over and it resulted in UCLA’s first touchdown since the second quarter.
Rosen completed a nine-yard pass to Jordan Payton in the end zone and then he converted a two-point play to Thomas Duarte to make it a one-score game.
Rosen completed a 12-yard, 17-yard and 22-yard pass on the drive -- with no incompletions.
Paul Perkins rushed for eight and four yards in consecutive carries.
The Bruins looked like they were ready to call it a season, but alas, a little bit of life.
Nebraska 37, UCLA 21 -- 14:11 left in the fourth quarter
Tommy Armstrong Jr. rushed for three yards and a Nebraska touchdown in a drive that covered 51 yards in nine plays and took 4:01 off the clock.
UCLA’s defense has no interest in stopping the run.
The Cornhuskers rushed for 31 yards in four consecutive carries before Armstrong completed a 13-yard pass to Brandon Reilly.
Terrell Newby rushed for two more yards and then Armstrong kept it to put his team up by 16.
UCLA’s defense looks tired and, as it’s gone most of the season, has no answer to stop the run.
UCLA ran the most frustrating pass for spectators to watch on third and 14, a screen pass, that was stopped far short of a first down and the Bruins punt.
The drive started with a false start by walk-on Cristian Garcia who started on what has become a patchwork offensive line.
Paul Perkins rushed for no gain and Josh Rosen’s second-down pass had to be thrown away under pressure.
Nebraska has all the momentum as the fourth quarter inches closer.
Nebraska 30, UCLA 21 -- 4:50 left in the third quarter
UCLA was able to come up with a big stop on third and goal to hold Nebraska to a field goal, but the Cornhuskers have scored 23 unanswered points.
Running back Devine Ozigbo rushed for 25 yards on the drive and Tommy Armstrong Jr. rushed for 23 before he completed a 13-yard pass to Alonzo Moore a few plays later.
UCLA’s defense looks worn down and tired, not to mention several players have been in and out with injuries.
Takkarist McKinley was sidelined for a few plays on the drive before he returned to the field.
UCLA running back Nate Starks was dropped for a three-yard loss to start the drive and the Bruins couldn’t get anything going on second or third down.
The Bruins punted and Nebraska will have the ball on its own 30-yard line.
Nebraska 27, UCLA 21 -- 10:37 left to play in the third quarter
Stanley Morgan Jr. made an impressive one-handed catch for a 22-yard touchdown to give Nebraska a seven-point lead.
It was Tommy Armstrong Jr.'s second throw in a drive that went 78 yards in nine plays, which means Nebraska has been running all over UCLA’s defense.
Armstrong, Imani Cross and Devine Ozigbo have caused problems for the front seven and Coach Mike Riley’s second-half game plan is undoubtedly to keep running.
UCLA defensive back John Johnson and linebacker Jayon Brown were injured on the drive.
Nebraska missed its extra point.
Nebraska defensive back Joshua Kalu intercepted a pass by Josh Rosen with 23 seconds left in the second quarter and then Kenny Clark sacked Tommy Armstrong Jr. as clock wound to halftime.
The officials made one of the worst calls of the season when they ejected Nebraska’s Nate Gerry for targeting.
Gerry made a textbook tackle on Paul Perkins ... and now he’ll watch the game from the locker room.
Gerry and UCLA Coach Jim Mora shared a few chuckles during the official review of the play. Penny for their thoughts?
Rosen has completed 13 of 17 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception.
Armstrong has completed seven of nine passes for 106 yards and he’s rushed for 34 yards in five carries.
UCLA 21, Nebraska 21 -- 44 seconds left in the second quarter
Nebraska quickly closed a 14-point deficit when Andy Janovich rushed one yard for a touchdown. The drive covered 73 yards in eight plays.
Cornhuskers quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. is giving UCLA’s defense fits. Armstrong has rushed for 41 yards in four carries.
The Cornhuskers have amounted 150 yards rushing.
Tight end Cethan Carter has also caused a mismatch for the defense. Carter has caught two passes for 32 yards.
With less than five minutes until halftime, Nebraska has managed to change momentum in its favor.
UCLA’s offense stammered and stumbled to a three and out.
UCLA 21, Nebraska 14 -- 6:23 left in the second quarter
It took four plays for Nebraska to go 75 yards and score a touchdown to make it a seven-point game.
Tommy Armstrong Jr. completed a 28-yard pass to Jordan Westerkamp and UCLA defensive back Jaleel Wadood was called for a personal foul after the play.
Then, Jamal Turner rushed for 22 yards and Terrell Newby rushed for three yards and Cornhuskers touchdown.
UCLA has five penalties for 48 yards.
Nebraska senior center Ryne Reeves was carted off the field before the drive and his backup took over.
UCLA 21, Nebraska 7 -- 7:55 left in the second quarter
Josh Rosen timed it perfectly as he waited for Nate Starks to get by the defense before he completed a 26-yard pass to him for a UCLA touchdown. The drive covered 68 yards in four plays.
Rosen completed a short pass to freshman Soso Jamabo on the first play and Jamabo dodged a few tackles to turn it into a 36-yard gain.
Jamabo hobbled off the field after the play.
Rosen is 10 of 12 for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
UCLA’s defense looked inspired after recovering a fumble that was converted into a touchdown.
The Bruins force Nebraska to a three and out.
UCLA 14, Nebraska 7 -- 11:04 left in the second quarter
Josh Rosen completed a 60-yard pass to Kenneth Walker III for a UCLA touchdown, capitalizing on a fumble recovery by Jaleel Wadood on the Bruins’ own 14-yard line.
Nebraska’s drive appeared destined for the end zone until Kenny Clark got away with tugging Tommy Armstrong Jr.'s facemask, which caused a fumble and Wadood’s recovery.
Rosen completed a third-down 22-yard pass to Jordan Payton before going deep to Walker.
The Chosen One makes it look so easy, so often.
UCLA went three and out after Paul Perkins rushed for two yards and Josh Rosen threw two incomplete passes.
The Bruins punt and Nebraska will take over at its own 19-yard line.
UCLA 7, Nebraska 7 -- 3:50 left in the first quarter
UCLA, plagued by penatlies, couldn’t get off the field on third down and Nebraska scored on a one-yard carry by Imani Cross. The drive covered 75 yards in 12 plays.
The Bruins nearly forced a three and out to start the drive when John Johnson was called for pass interference, automatically giving Nebraska a first down.
The Cornhuskers clearly read the scouting report on UCLA: Run the ball.
Nebraska rushed for 38 yards in 11 carries.
UCLA already has amounted three penalties for 28 yards.
UCLA 7, Nebraska 0 -- 10:17 left in the first quarter
Josh Rosen completed a 22-yard pass to Thomas Duarte on fourth down to set up a one-yard carry by Paul Perkins for a Bruins touchdown. The drive covered 79 yards in 10 plays and ran 4:43 off the clock.
Perkins rushed for 34 yards in three carries.
Rosen completed five-of-five passes for 41 yards, including the 22-yard pass on fourth down which was a well-played faked handoff to Nate Starks.
UCLA Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone will be calling plays from the booth, ESPN’s Shelley Smith reported on the broadcast. Mazzone suffered blood clots in his lungs last week, Smith said, but was cleared by doctors to fly to San Francisco to join the team.
UCLA could be playing with a pieced together offensive live.
Walk-on Cristian Garcia has been warming up with the starters.
The Bruins are without Alex Redmond, who left to prepare for the NFL, and Fred Ulu-Perry, who returned to Hawaii earlier this month.
Kenny Lacy’s availability also remains uncertain after he suffered an ankle injury in the regular-season finale against USC.
UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone is walking around during team warm ups, reporter Zach Helfand says, and it appears he will be available to call plays.
Mazzone suffered what Coach Jim Mora called a “serious” medical issue last week.
It’s about 48 degrees and mostly clear, according to weather reports, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara as UCLA and Nebraska prepare to kick off in the Foster Farms Bowl in about an hour.
A victory for the 8-4 Bruins will send the seniors away with 38 wins, the most of any UCLA class.
Nebraska, 5-7, is among a few controversial teams this season that snuck into a bowl game with a losing record.
The status of UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone remains uncertain after he was hospitalized last week because of an undisclosed health issue. Coach Jim Mora said last Saturday that his “gut feeling” was that Mazzone would be available to call plays.
The Bruins will play without junior offensive lineman Alex Redmond, who left the team to prepare for the NFL. Freshman lineman Fred Ulu-Perry also left the team earlier this month to return to Hawaii.