THE SERIES: UCLA and Nebraska have played 12 times in history, with the series even at six wins apiece. The Foster Farms Bowl is the first time the two programs will meet in a post-season setting. It will be the third time in four seasons the Bruins and Cornhuskers have faced each other, and UCLA has had the recent upper hand. In 2012, UCLA won 36-30, with the Bruins running up 653 yards against the Cornhuskers, in Jim Mora’s second game as UCLA’s head coach. In 2013, UCLA faced Nebraska in Lincoln, right after UCLA walk-on receiver Nick Pasquale had died after being struck by a car. UCLA trailed by 18 initially, but then scored 38 unanswered points to win 42-21. – Tracy Pierson, BruinReportOnline.com
WHAT A WIN MEANS FOR NEBRASKA: Comparing 6-7 and 5-8 doesn’t really matter, but a win over another team ranked inside the top 15 for much of the season would give the coaching staff something to build on in the offseason. Similar to the Georgia win in the Gator Bowl a few years ago, it could lighten the offseason narrative for a new coaching staff that struggled in year one.
WHAT A WIN MEANS FOR UCLA: If UCLA wins, it will mark four straight seasons of nine wins or more, the most for any four-season stretch in UCLA’s history. The general sentiment surrounding the game is that UCLA could still be experiencing a hangover from losing to USC and missing out on the Pac-12 Championship game, while Nebraska has nothing to lose, getting into a bowl at 5-7. – Tracy Pierson, BruinReportOnline.com
NEBRASKA PLAYERS TO WATCH ON OFFENSE AND DEFENSE:
QB.) Tommy Armstrong – It’s easy for the quarterback to be looked at each game, but the three-year starter has had a lot of time off after one of his worse performances of the season against Iowa. Down the stretch Armstrong had nine interceptions in three games. Will he able to take care of the football against UCLA? And how will Nebraska use in him in the running game against a team that has struggled to stop rushing attacks
DB.) Chris Jones – The sophomore is confident heading into the matchup, evening calling UCLA true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen a “little freshman.” Will Jones be able to help slow down a UCLA passing game that currently ranks inside the top 25 in the country. Like most freshman, Rosen probably grew a little during the break with extra practices.
REASONS TO BE CONCERNED: Nebraska is currently No. 122 in the country in stopping the pass. The crazy thing is that number has been worse at times this season. UCLA likes to move the football through the air and definitely will have some success against Nebraska’s secondary. The question is whether Nebraska will just bend, or actually break.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I personally feel we definitely earned it,” said junior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp when asked if Nebraska should be in a bowl game. “We were close in every game. We never got blown out. We beat a team in the final four. We almost beat a team in Iowa who is highly thought of and highly ranked. We were neck and neck with every team we played.”
JOSH HARVEY’s PREDICTION: I actually think Nebraska might have some success running the football on UCLA, who ranks No. 88 in the country in stopping the run, but won’t be able to do enough to keep Josh Rosen in check over the entire game. I think Nebraska can keep it close, but it will be another close loss, 34-27.