College Football Alamo Bowl Picks: #11 Kansas State Wildcats vs #14 UCLA Bruins

2015 Valero Alamo Bowl
#14 UCLA Bruins vs #11 Kansas State Wildcats

Alamo Dome – San Antonio, Texas
Friday, January 2, 2015, 6:45 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Kansas State -1 1/2
Current Line: UCLA -1 1/2
Opening Total: 58 1/2
Current Total: 59 1/2
Opening Money Line: KSU -125 / UCLA +105
Current Money Line: UCLA -125 / KSU +105

UCLA is slightly favored over Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl.
UCLA is slightly favored over Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl.

The 9-3 Kansas State Wildcats and 9-3 UCLA Bruins meet in the Alamo Bowl in a battle of top 15 teams Friday. This is only the third meeting ever between the Wildcats and Bruins. The teams split a home and home in 2009 and 2010 with each winning at home. Kansas State won the last meeting 31-22 in Manhattan.

Kansas State went 7-2 in the Big 12 and finished third in the Big 12 behind Baylor and TCU. UCLA went 6-3 ATS in the Pac 12 South and tied with Arizona State and USC for second behind Arizona.

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UCLA is 16-17-1 all-time in bowl games. The Bruins are playing in a bowl for the fourth straight season. UCLA beat Virginia Tech 42-12 in the Sun Bowl last season to snap a two game losing streak in bowls. The Bruins have never played in the Alamo Bowl before this season.

Kansas State is 7-10 all time in bowl games, all since 1982. The Wildcats are playing in a bowl for the fifth straight season. Kansas State beat Michigan last season 31-14 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to snap a 5 game bowl losing streak. The Wildcats beat Purdue in the 1998 Alamo Bowl in their only previous trip to San Antonio.

UCLA is coached by Jim Mora, Jr. The Bruins have road wins over Virginia 28-20, Arizona State 62-27, at California 36-34, at Colorado 40-37 in double overtime, and Washington 44-30, home wins over Memphis 42-35, Arizona 17-7, and USC 38-20 and a “neutral site” win over Texas 20-17 in Arlington, Texas. UCLA lost at home to Utah 30-28, at home to Oregon 42-30 and Stanford 31-10 in the regular season finale. The Stanford loss not only snapped a five game winning streak for the Bruins but kept UCLA out of the Pac 12 Championship game. The Bruins are 4-8 ATS and the total is 4-7-1 this season. UCLA was a 6 point favorite against Stanford and the total was 48.5.

Kansas State is coached by Bill Snyder. The Wildcats have a home loss to Auburn 20-14 and road losses at TCU 41-20 and Baylor 38-27 in the last game of the regular season. Kansas State had won 2 straight games before the Baylor loss. KSU had a chance to win at least a share of the Big 12 title with a win over Baylor. The Wildcats have home wins over Stephen F. Austin 55-16, UTEP 58-28, Texas Tech 45-13, Texas 23-0, Oklahoma State 48-14 and Kansas 51-13,  along with road wins at Iowa State 32-28, Oklahoma 31-30 and West Virginia 26-20 . Kansas State is 8-4 ATS and the total is 7-5 this season. The Wildcats were 7 point underdogs against Baylor  and the total was 71.5.

UCLA is outscoring teams 33-28. The Bruins are averaging 468 yards per game including 269 passing and 199 rushing. UCLA is in the top 40 nationally in all offensive categories. On defense, UCLA is allowing 401 yards per game including 243 passing and 158 rushing. The Bruins are #89 nationally out of 128 teams in pass defense. UCLA is -1 in turnovers with 14 takeaways. The Bruins average 71 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 52. UCLA is 88/202 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 88/210. The Bruins have forced 22 sacks and allowed 38 this season. UCLA is 44/47 scoring in the red zone with 30 touchdowns and opponents are 34/41 with 24 touchdowns. The Bruins have five defensive/special teams scores this season, including three against Virginia, and UCLA has allowed 3 pick sixes and a kickoff return for a touchdown.

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has completed 70.4% of his passes for 3,019 yards with 21 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 148 carries for 548 yards and 8 touchdowns. He is probable with a finger injury and will likely declare for the NFL draft after this game. Running back Paul Perkins has 230 carries for 1,378 yards and 7 touchdowns, plus 26 catches for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jordan James, Nate Starks and Myles Jack will also get some carries.

Receiver Jordan Payton has 63 catches for 896 yards and 7 touchdowns. Thomas Duarte has 27 catches for 521 yards and 4 touchdowns. Eldridge Massington has 25 catches for 367 yards and 3 touchdowns. Devin Fuller has 57 catches for 428 yards and a touchdown. Nate Iese has only 12 catches but 2 touchdowns. He is questionable with a shoulder injury. Three defensive players and two little used wide receivers are questionable or out for the Bruins.

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Kansas State is outscoring teams 36-22 this season. KSU is #24 in scoring and #24 in points allowed nationally. The Wildcats are averaging 426 total yards per game including 283 passing and 143 rushing yards. K-State is #20 in passing and #94 in rushing.  On defense, Kansas State is allowing 361 total yards per game including 237 passing and 125 rushing yards per game. The Wildcats are #23 in rush defense and #36 in total defense. Kansas State is +9 in turnovers and has forced 20 turnovers. The Wildcats are averaging 39 penalty yards per game and opponents average 55. Kansas State is 80/168 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 74/175. Kansas State has forced 24 sacks and allowed 24 this season. The Wildcats are 52/58 scoring in the red zone with 40 touchdowns, and opponents are 27/35 with 21 touchdowns. Kansas State has allowed a punt return for a touchdown and a pick six. The Wildcats have 2 punt returns, a kickoff return and an interception return all for touchdowns.

Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters has thrown for 3,163 yards with 20 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, plus he has rushed for 471 yards on 139 carries with 8 touchdowns. Back-up quarterback Joe Hubener has thrown for 235 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Hubener has 27 carries for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Running back Charles Jones has 124 carries for 521 yards and 13 touchdowns, plus 6 catches and a touchdown. Running back DeMarcus Robinson has 106 carries for 436 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 8 catches for 69 yards and touchdown.  Receiver Tyler Lockett has 93 catches for 1,351 yards and 9 touchdown catches, along with 2 punt returns for touchdowns. Curry Sexton has 69 catches for 955 yards and 5 touchdowns. Zach Trujillo, Deante Burton, and Kody Cook will also get a lot of targets. Five defensive players are listed on the injury report.

UCLA is 11-4 ATS after a double digit home loss, 8-3 after allowing more than 200 rushing yards, 2-5 after a cover, 1-4 against Big 12 teams, 2-9 after passing for less than 170 yards, and 1-5 after a straight up loss.

Kansas State is 21-5 ATS after allowing more than 280 yards, 16-5 after a straight up loss, 19-6-1 against teams with winning records, 6-2 after allowing more than 450 total yards, 9-3 after passing for more than 280 yards, 7-3 after failing to cover, 34-16-1 overall, and 1-5 in bowl games.

These teams seem evenly matched and are very capable at scoring. The defenses aren’t terrible and both teams are coming off disappointing losses. I think Kansas State wins a close game in what should be an entertaining affair.

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