5 Thoughts On The Alamo Bowl

Recap, 5 Thoughts and what's next for each team in the Alamo Bowl

Jan. 2 Valero Alamo Bowl
UCLA 40, Kansas State 35

And You Care Because … UCLA needed a big late play to avoid a massive collapse, and it got it as Paul Perkins tore off a 67–yard run to put the game away – sort of. His dash gave the Bruins a late 12-point lead, but as was the problem all throughout the second half, the D took its foot off the gas and Kansas State made it interesting on a Jake Waters 29-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett to keep the game alive. The Bruins recovered the onside kick, but it was a fight. UCLA got up early, and it needed the padding after a big Kansas State comeback. The Bruins got up 17-0 helped by Brett Hundley touchdown runs from ten and 28 yards out, and it got ugly going into halftime with Perkins running for a 32-yard score and Hundley finding Devin Lucien from even yards out for a 31-6 lead. But the Wildcats didn’t quit as Lockett caught a three-yard touchdown pass and Jake Waters ran for a one-yard score as part of a 21-3 scoring run to pull within six late before Perkins’ dash.
What Else? UCLA QB Brett Hundley completed 12-of-24 passes for 136 yards and a score, and ran 11 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns
- Kansas State QB Jake Waters completed 31-of-48 passes for 338 yards and two scores with a pick, and ran 15 times for 13 yards and a score. WR Tyler Lockett caught 13 passes for 164 yards and two scores, returned two punts for 41 yards, and three kickoffs for 44 yards
- UCLA RB Paul Perkins ran 20 times for 195 yards and two scores
- Penalties: UCLA 15 for 128 yards – Kansas State 6 for 39 yards
Game Rating: B

By Pete Fiutak
1. Oh UCLA, I could never be made at you, you amuse me too much.

This game was an almost perfect finish to as puzzling a ten-win season as the program could’ve come up with. There was more than enough talent to win the Pac-12 and get into the playoff, but something was always missing. Whether it was focus on a game-in-and-game-out basis, or trying to close things out, nothing ever seemed to go quite right. Just when you thought the Bruins were about to be amazing, and just when it seemed like it was all coming together, the interest just seemed to go bye-bye. This should’ve been an emphatic statement, and this should’ve been a dominant blowout, but UCLA started going through the motions, left the door open, and Kansas State almost pulled off a gigantic upset. And then, just when you thought UCLA was going to just let it all go down the tubes, it did something amazing. I still don’t quite know what to make of this year’s team, but if 10-3 with a good bowl win can be disappointing, this team was it.

By Rich Cirminiello
2. I often questioned the heart of UCLA in the fall, as the team repeatedly played to—or even below—the level of its competition. But tonight, when I might have understood a lack of Bruin motivation, the program caught me off guard.

This Alamo Bowl had all of the ingredients of a Bruin letdown. For starters, it’s the Alamo Bowl, a day after the New Year’s Day revelry that determined this year’s national championship combatants. And UCLA is a team that expected to participate in a much bigger venue, and is littered with former blue-chip recruits. A little feeling of entitlement behavior, possibly? Uh-uh. Not tonight – at least for a half, and then it went right back to being UCLA again.

UCLA jumped all over Kansas State, using its edge in size, speed and athleticism to build a 31-6 halftime cushion. And although the Bruins buckled at times in the second half, and had way too many penalties, they also delivered when necessary to hold off the Wildcats’ valiant effort down the stretch.

The Bruins played with a lot of intensity and want-to in San Antonio when they really wanted to, and that turned out to be enough. It might not have been for a full sixty minutes, but they brought far more intensity than I expected. And for maintaining the right demeanor, they’re going to finish the year with 10 wins and a very respectable ranking right around the top 10.

By Pete Fiutak
3. Jake Waters turned into a terrific passing quarterback, and it was always way too tempting not to throw the ball to Tyler Lockett every chance possible, but Kansas State got away from cranking out a top running game, and the team and offense weren’t quite the same. The Wildcats had to throw to try getting back in the game after getting blown out early, but 32 carries for 31 yards was a disaster for a program used to dominating on the ground year after year. It’ll all depend on personnel, but it’ll be interesting to see if Bill Snyder tries to go back to the offense that made Kansas State so great in the first place. Throwing it is nice, but to control the clock and games like the Wildcats like to do, pound it.

4. What’s next for Kansas State
Gutty quarterback Jake Waters is done, and now it’ll likely be to Joe Hubener to give it a go. The bigger problem is the loss of heart-and-soul, perennial All-American receiver Tyler Lockett and running mate Curry Sexton. Along with TE Zach Trujillo, Kansas State loses its top three targets. Charles Jones is back to lead the rushing attack, but DeMarcus Robinson is gone – Hubener is a strong runner, though. The O line should be a strength with four senior starters back, but the loss of C B.J. Finney is a killer.

Pass rushing terror Ryan Mueller is gone along with DT Valentino Coleman, but the line returns some nice playmakers in Jordan Willis and Marquel Bryant. The linebacking corps got through a few growing pains, but loses leading tackler Jonathan Truman and Dakoey Johnson – Will Davis is a good one and Elijah Lee is ready to be a big factor. With three of the five top defenders returning in the secondary, it should be a strength as the season goes on. P Nick Walsh came up with a good first year, while Matthew McCrane should be among the nation’s most accurate kickers again – at least that’s the hope.

5. What’s next for UCLA
Is Jim Mora Jr. going to be offered an NFL job he can’t refuse? If he’s back, he has a ton of work to do trying to replace QB Brett Hundley, even if Jerry Neuheisel has enough experience to push for the gig. All that matters is the quarterback, because everything else is in place. Paul Perkins spent the year as one of the nation’s least-hyped star running back, but that’s not going to happen going forward. The line should get back all five starters led by center Jake Brendel, an all-star candidate and the leader of the young and emerging bunch. Great recruiting classes should make this a strength if everything goes according to plan. The biggest positive, though, could be a receiving corps that gets back everyone. Outside of RB Jordon James, there aren’t any seniors among everyone who caught a pass.

Devastating LB Eric Kendricks is done, but Myles Jack is back with the potential to be the nation’s best defender. The defensive front loses Owamagbe Odighizuwa, but Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenny Clark are back, and Deon Hollins returns to give Jack some help in the linebacking corps. Anthony Jefferson is gone, but the secondary should be loaded. The punting game could stand to be a little better with Matt Mengel needing to get the average above 40 yards per pop on a regular basis, while Ka’imi Fairbairn is a good, sound kicker who has been around long enough to be reliable.

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