College Football Holiday Bowl Betting Preview: Baylor Bears vs #17 UCLA Bruins

2012 Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl
Thursday, December 27, 2012, 9:45 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Baylor Bears vs #17 UCLA Bruins
Qualcomm Stadium – San Diego, California
Opening Line: UCLA -1
Current Line: UCLA -1
Opening Total: 77 1/2
Current Total: 81 1/2
Opening Money Line: UCLA -120 / Baylor +100
Current Money Line: UCLA -120 / Baylor +100

UCLA and Baylor meet for the first time ever in the 2012 Holiday Bowl in San Diego. Expect lots of points between two teams that struggle on defense and have explosive offenses.

The 7-5 Baylor Bears and #17 9-4 UCLA Bruins meet for the first time ever in the 2012 Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl Thursday in San Diego. Baylor is playing in their third straight bowl game. The Bears are 10-8 all-time in bowl games. They beat Washington 67-56 in the Alamo Bowl last year. UCLA is 15-16-1 all-time in bowl games. They lost 20-14 to Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl last year.

Baylor finished 4-5 in the Big 12 under coach Art Briles. The Bears won 4 of their last 5 games including 3 in a row after a 4 game losing streak. Baylor has home wins over SMU 59-24, Sam Houston St 48-23, Kansas 41-14, then #1 Kansas St 52-24 and Oklahoma St 41-34 to close out the regular season, along with a road win at Louisiana-Monroe 47-42. The Bears beat Texas Tech 52-45 in Arlington, Texas. Baylor has a home loss to TCU 49-21, along with road losses at  West Virginia 70-63, Texas 56-50, Iowa St 35-21, and at Oklahoma 42-34. Baylor is 8-4 ATS and the total is 8-3 this season.

Baylor is averaging 578.8 yards per game on offense, including 353.2 passing yards and 225.5 rushing yards. The Bears are #1 in total offense, #3 passing and #18 rushing nationally. Baylor is outscoring teams 44-38 this season. The Bears are #5 in scoring nationally. Baylor is +5 in turnovers with 20 giveaways. The Bears are averaging 63 penalty yards per game and have allowed 17 sacks. Baylor is 99/198 on third and fourth down conversions, and 53/65 scoring in the red zone with 41 touchdowns. While the Baylor offense is among the best in the country, the defense is among the worst. The Bears are giving up 513.9 yards per game including 323.1 passing yards and 190.8 rushing yards. Baylor is 90th or worse in all defensive categories including #123 out of 124 teams in total offense, #122 in pass defense and #117 in points allowed. The Bears have forced 17 sacks and 25 turnovers this season. Baylor opponents are 117/218 on third and fourth down conversions and 47/56 scoring in the red zone with 40 touchdowns. Baylor has 3 defensive touchdowns this season.

Baylor quarterback Nick Florence has completed 276 of 451 passes (61.2%) for 4,121 yards with 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also has 121 carries, 531 yards and 9 touchdowns. Running back Lache Seastrunk has 115 carries, 874 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 9 catches, 107 yards and a touchdown. Glasco Martin has 158 carries, 791 yards and 12 touchdowns. Jarred Salubi has 108 carries, 437 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 8 catches for 44 yards.

Receiver Terrance Williams has 95 catches, 1,764 yards and 12 touchdowns. Tevin Reese has 51 catches, 889 yards and 8 touchdowns. Lanear Sampson has 51 catches, 639 yards and 6 touchdowns. Levi Norwood has 39 catches for 477 yards and a receiving touchdown, along with a rushing touchdown. Jordan Navjar has only 8 catches, but 2 of them went for touchdowns. Three defensive players from an already terrible unit are listed as questionable or out.

UCLA was 6-4 in the Pac 12 under first year coach Jim Mora, Jr. The Bruins won the Pac 12 South Division. UCLA lost to Stanford in back to back games to close out the regular season. They lost 35-17 at home to close out the regular season, and then again at Stanford the next week 27-24 in the Pac 12 Championship game. The Bruins have additional losses at home to Oregon St 27-10 and at California 43-17. UCLA has home wins over Nebraska 36-30, Houston 37-6, Utah 21-14, Arizona 66-10, and USC along with road wins at Rice 49-24, Colorado 42-14, Arizona St 45-43, and at Washington St 44-36. UCLA is 8-5 ATS and the total is 9-4 this season.

UCLA is averaging 474.6 yards per game including 271.6 passing yards and 203 rushing yards per game. The Bruins are outscoring teams 35-26 this season. UCLA is #36 or higher nationally in all offensive categories. The Bruins are +4 in turnovers with 25 giveaways. UCLA is averaging 93 penalty yards per game and has allowed 46 sacks this season. The Bruins are 90/214 on third and fourth down conversions and 53/64 scoring in the red zone with 40 touchdowns. On defense, UCLA is allowing 410 yards per game, including 255.4 passing and 154.6 rushing yards. The Bruins are #94 nationally in pass defense out of 124 FBS teams and #75 in total defense. UCLA has forced 45 sacks and 29 turnovers. Bruin opponents are 68/208 on third and fourth down conversions and 39/44 scoring in the red zone with 29 touchdowns. UCLA has 4 fumble returns for touchdowns.

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has completed 292 of 428 passes (68.2%) for 3,411 yards with 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, along with 151 carries, 365 yards and 9 touchdowns. Running back Johnathan Franklin has 268 carries, 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns, plus 32 catches, 319 yards and 2 touchdowns. Damien Thigpen has 50 carries, 262 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 18 catches, 211 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is out for the season with a knee injury.  Jordon James has 59 carries, 212 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 22 catches, 169 yards and a touchdown. Steven Manfro has 8 carries, 70 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 28 catches, 287 yards and a touchdown.

Including the running backs, 8 UCLA receivers have at least 17 catches.  Shaquelle Evans has 53 catches, 795 yards and 2 touchdowns. Joseph Fauria has 41 catches, 578 yards and 11 touchdowns. Jerry Johnson has 26 catches, 312 yards and a touchdown. Jordan Payton has 17 catches, 199 yards and a touchdown. Nine Bruins are questionable, doubtful or out Thursday including 5 defensive players.

Baylor is 5-0 ATS overall, 4-0 after a straight up win, after a cover, after rushing for over 200 yards, after gaining more than 450 yards, and against teams with winning records, 6-1 after allowing 200 rushing yards or more, 4-1 after allowing 450 yards or more, after passing for 280 yards or more, and allowing 280 passing yards or more, and 5-2 in neutral site games.

UCLA is 4-1 ATS against teams with winning records and on grass, 5-2 after a straight up loss, 5-2 after gaining more than 450 yards, and in December, 4-11 after rushing for over 200 yards, 1-4 in Thursday games, and after a cover.

If you prefer old fashioned defensive football, this probably won’t be the bowl game for you. Baylor has one of the worst defenses in the country and UCLA isn’t much better. Both offenses are explosive. This could be one of those games that which ever team has the ball last will win.

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