(11) Kansas State vs. (14) UCLA (-1.5, 59 o/u)
This year’s Valero Alamo Bowl gives us an interesting Pac-12/Big 12 matchup, as the Kansas State Wildcats meet the UCLA Bruins on Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio (6:45 p.m. Eastern).
Both teams were fun to watch during the regular season, but neither was built to fight for a national title.
With ageless savant Bill Snyder at the helm, Kansas State is a well-coached team with an, at times, dominant defense. However, the Wildcats didn’t have the offensive weapons to compete with the likes of TCU and Baylor in the Big 12, ultimately finishing third in the conference.
Kansas State ended the regular season at 9-3, losing to TCU (41-20), Baylor (38-27), and Auburn (20-10) on the year. They averaged a very respectable 35.8 points per game for the season, but, as the scores above show, they couldn’t keep up with the more potent offenses when push came to shove.
The Wildcats have a good passing game, but can become one-dimensional on offense at times; the team did not have a single running back reach 600 yards on the year.
Still, Snyder – one of the greatest college coaches ever – will have the Wildcats as prepared as humanly possible.
The Bruins also finished the regular season with a 9-3 record, posting impressive wins over Arizona and USC. They were set to play in the Pac-12 title game against Oregon until their final game of the year, when they were upset by Stanford at home, 31-10, despite being five-point favorites.
The Bruins also lost to Utah and Oregon on the year.
UCLA head coach Jim Mora was very complimentary of Snyder heading into the game.
“I am sitting next to a legend as a coach,” Mora said about Snyder. “He is someone I would like to model my career after.”
And Snyder reciprocated the sentiment. “I greatly appreciate what Jim has done,” Snyder said, “but most significantly, I like the way he has done it. I admire coaches that don’t get caught up in all the things that are taking place in college athletics today and coaches who genuinely care about their program.”
Though the coaches are lauding each other with niceties, don’t expect the players to do the same on the field. Both teams will be eager to earn both their schools and their conferences some respect. Expect a hard-hitting, defensive struggle when the Bruins and Wildcats meet on Friday.
(Photo credit: Alex (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)