UCLA Will Holiday In San Diego

Chip Kelly Dorian Thompson-Robinson
Spread the love

For the first time in four years, the Bruins are going bowling. UCLA will holiday in San Diego. They will be playing the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the Holiday Bowl at Petco Park at 5pm on December 28th.

How UCLA Got There

The Bruins finished with a winning record for the first time in the four-year Chip Kelly era. They finished 8-4 overall and 6-3 in Pac-12 play. That was good enough to be tied for second in the conference’s south division with Arizona State. The Las Vegas Bowl, which had its choice of Pac-12 teams before the Holiday Bowl, went with the Sun Devils. ASU beat UCLA this season, so owned the head-to-head advantage. Their fan base also has a reputation for travelling well. UCLA’s does not.

None the less, the record and the bowl game is the high point in Kelly’s tenure at UCLA. He went into the season with a 10-21 record in the previous three years.

The Setting

This will be the first football game to be played at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. The old Jack Murphy/Qualcomm Stadium has been torn down. Aztec Stadium, which will serve as home of San Diego State football won’t be completed until the start of next season. SDSU has been playing its home games in Carson this season. The city actually has laws prohibiting football from being played at Petco. But at the risk of losing millions in tourism dollars and tv revenue for the game, an exemption was granted for this season.

What Kelly Knows

UCLA head coach acknowledged that he knew little about the Wolfpack when he met with the media Sunday afternoon after the announcement. Nearly every projection by reputable media had UCLA in the Holiday Bowl against NC State, or in the Las Vegas Bowl against Wisconsin or Penn State. Still, Kelly said he had no idea what was in front of the Bruins until he got a text with the details. “That Dave Doeren’s the head coach and they’re the Wolfpack,” is the extent of what Kelly said he knew about the opponent.

There is a lot more to know. We will have a detailed preview prior to the game. But for now, Kelly should know that NC State finished the season 9-3 overall and 6-2 in conference play. They won four of their last five. Oh, and then there is this piece of advice for Kelly. When you are watching the game films from the season, look for #79, Ikem Ekwonu. “Ickey” is one of the most talented offensive linemen you will see and was a shoe-in as a finalist for the Outland Trophy from those of us who have votes. He has been called the most feared offensive lineman in the ACC. Just a little tip for Kelly since he proclaimed to have so little knowledge on NC State.

What’s Next

Both teams are now allowed 15 extra practices in bowl game prep. UCLA is taking this week off from practices due to final exams, and will start practices over the weekend.

The game is a homecoming for Doeren who was born in San Diego. As for Kelly, he is returning to the Holiday Bowl for the first time since 2008. He was Oregon’s offensive coordinator as the Ducks beat Oklahoma State 42-31 in that bowl.

Last Word on College Football will begin its previews of all bowl games next week.