Tuesday, 26 December 2017 16:26

Bruins Head To Phoenix To Play K-State In Cactus Bowl

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Jamabo S UNLVUCLA (6-6) will take on Kansas State (7-5) the 29th annual Cactus Bowl game kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM PST and with it will start the conclusion of a very strange season for the Bruins.

During this odd season that saw UCLA head coach, Jim Mora lose his job along with many of the assistants, the Bruins will be under the guidance of interim head coach, Jedd Fisch, who will all continue in his role as offensive coordinator.

It’s unfortunate for Fisch that he will be leading the Bruins with a skeleton coaching staff. Graduate assistants will be manning the defensive backs and linebackers.

Fisch during the week leading up to the game was thankful that defensive coordinator, Tom Bradley, has coached all three levels of defense and will be helping the young coaches.

While nothing has been announced there have been rumors surfacing that junior quarterback, Josh Rosen will sit the game out due to concussion protocol, if true, the Bruin signal caller will end up the season, throwing for 3,756 yards, 26 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, averaged 341.5 yards per game and on 62.6 percent of his passes.

If Rosen isn’t able to play, UCLA will get a chance of glimpsing into the future. Redshirt freshman quarterback, Devon Modster will get the nod and will be auditioning for new head coach Chip Kelly.

In relief duty, Modster has been outstanding and led the Bruins in the waning moments of the Cal game for a game-winning drive. The youngster displayed outstanding poise in the process. In four games, this season, Devon Modster threw for 376 yards, two touchdowns and hit on 66.7 percent of his passes.

The Cactus Bowl will mark the fourth time that UCLA and Kansas State have squared off on the gridiron with the Bruins holding a 2-1 lead.

The last time these two teams faced off was in the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. It was a wild affair that saw Brett Hundley is his last game a Bruin lead No. 14 ranked UCLA to a 31-6 only to see the Wildcats roar back and made the game too close for comfort with the Bruins hanging on to win 40-35.

You may remember that a Wildcat player flew over the offensive line to try and force a fumble when Hundley was taking a knee to end the game. The Bruin players didn’t like that their prized quarterback could have been in harm’s way.

How things have the fortunes have changed since that victory in Texas two in 2015. The win was UCLA's 10th of the season, which matched the school record. The victory over K-State was UCLA’s third win over a top 15 ranked team. The most wins, a Bruin team had over ranked teams, since 1952. It was also the 10th-straight Bruin win away from the Rose Bowl.

Fast forward to 2017 and going back to 2016, the Bruins haven’t won away from the Rose Bowl since September 17, 2016, against BYU in Provo. Over the last two seasons, UCLA 1-11 on the road.

One thing that UCLA can expect out of Kansas State is that they will be well-coached. Legendary Wildcat coach Bill Snyder, maybe coaching in is last game and there would be nothing more the K-State football team would love to do than let Snyder go out a winner.

Before Snyder’s arrival to Manhattan, Kansas, the Wildcat football program was a perennial college football bottom dweller and was often called the Mildcats. When Snyder took over the helm, made K-State a football team to reckon with.

The Wildcats are coming to Phoenix on a roll winning, four out of their last five games, two of which were double-figure comebacks.

Redshirt freshman, Skylar Thompson, will line up under center for the Wildcats. Because of injuries, Thompson had on the job training and he has improved with every snap. The young Wildcat signal caller, twice earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Week while leading K-State to crucial late-season victories that earned the program their eighth straight bowl game.

The game will be televised on ESPN with Jason Benetti doing play-by-play, Jordan Rodgers analyzing the action, and Olivia Harlan will report from the sideline.

UCLA Sports Network from IMG College will broadcast the game on AM 1150 with the usual crew Josh Lewin, and the Bruin quarterbacks, Matt Stevens and Wayne Cook performing their usual roles.

ESPN Radio will also broadcast the game with Mark Kestecher and another Bruin quarterback, Tom Ramsey behind the microphones.

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