Free Cactus Bowl Prediction: Bruins vs Wildcats Odds
Looking for UCLA Bruins vs Kansas State Wildcats free picks? Cactus Bowl betting sees the Bruins taking on the Wildcats Tuesday December 26th at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. Cappers Picks provides complimentary handicapping picks all NCAA football bowl season long so stay tuned for more FREE college football predictions like this UCLA Kansas State free pick.
College Football Handicapping: Cactus Bowl
(7-5) UCLA Bruins vs. Kansas State Wildcats (6-6)
Date: Tuesday, December 26th
Time: 9:00 pm EST
Venue: Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona
NCAA Football Spread: Kansas State -2.5
NCAA Betting Total: 63.0
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Bill Snyder and the Wildcats survived a rough stretch in the middle of the season to get to a bowl game for the eighth straight season.
The UCLA Bruins fired their head coach and now have Chip Kelly waiting in the wings for next season while their quarterback is likely playing his last game with the program. The Bruins are returning to a bowl game this season after missing out in 2016.
These two teams faced off in the Alamo Bowl at the end of the 2014 season when UCLA won 40-35.
After firing coach Jim Mora on his birthday, the Bruins turned to Chip Kelly to try to improve their program. While Kelly is giving the program plenty of reason for optimism in the future, the Bruins still have a bowl game to play this season.
This game very likely could be quarterback Josh Rosen’s last game in an UCLA uniform. There’s interesting speculation that Rosen could return for a year with Kelly to see what type of success they could have together but Rosen appears to be a lock to go in the top 10 so it’s likely he will declare for the draft after the bowl game.
The Bruins had a pretty up and down season where they struggled to protect their quarterback at times while also having a difficult time stopping the run.
The Bruins defense allowed 5.7 yards per rush on the season which ranked 126th in the FBS.
Their pass offense was the strength of the team – even when Rosen was banged up or not even playing.
They averaged 8.3 yards per pass attempt on the season and were 33rd in the FBS in 3rd down conversion rate.
The Bruins also did turn the ball over the 32nd most times in the FBS so they do shoot themselves in the foot – even when the offense may be working effectively.
The big thing to look at in bowl games is motivation. The Bruins should be relatively motivated. A new coach in the building means no one’s spot in the lineup is safe. They have a few key seniors on defense that should be motivated in their last college game. Rosen will likely be playing his last game – also his last chance of game action to impress pro scouts – so he should be motivated.
I think as long as Rosen’s status for the game remains the same, the UCLA offense should do very well in this game. The defense is a bit of a different question as their inability to stop the run could be problematic against Kansas State.
Kansas State Wildcats
A midseason stretch where the Wildcats lost 3 of 4 had their hopes of going to a bowl game hanging on by a thread.
But, the Wildcats turned it around winning 4 of their final 5 games to secure a spot in a bowl game.
The play of freshman quarterback Skylar Thompson is a big reason for the resurgence. Thompson came on in relief twice in wins over Kansas and Texas Tech. He then took the reigns as the starter for the final 3 games and accounted for 6 total touchdowns in those 3 starts.
Thompson has provided the Wildcats with efficient quarterback play and the ability to run the football. He has completed 63.2% of his passes on the season and has also rushed for 263 yards along with 3 rushing touchdowns.
Thompson led the Wildcats to a road win over Oklahoma State that showed off how special a player he really is. He threw for 204 passing yards and 3 touchdowns while also rushing for 93 yards a touchdown. He outdueled Mason Rudolph on his own turf.
Bill Snyder has plenty of experience coaching in bowl games but he hasn’t always been successful. Snyder has coached in 19 bowl games but has just an 8-11 record.
He is 2-7 SU in his last 9 bowl appearances.
It is difficult to gauge what the Wildcats’ motivation will be. They don’t have a lot of seniors but their leading tackler and captain is a senior. They are on a bit of a roll but several weeks off from their last game might halt that momentum a little bit.
NCAA Football Handicapping Trends
- Kansas State is 2-7 ATS in their last 9 bowl games.
- UCLA is 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games overall.
- Over is 11-4 in UCLA’s last 15 games against the Big 12.
- Kansas State has been outgained in 9 straight games.
- UCLA is allowing 45.5 points per game away from home this season.
Free Cactus Bowl NCAA Football Pick
The UCLA defense struggled for much of the year so even a little bit of extra motivation isn’t going to flip the switch for them. I expect them to struggle to contain Kansas State’s rushing attack while Rosen impresses in his last college game.
4* Free NCAA Betting Pick: Over 63.0
Unless Rosen decides not to play, I think we will see a shootout. When healthy, he has been able to pick defenses apart. Thompson should be able to counter with some big plays for the Kansas State offense.
Cactus Bowl Free Score Prediction: UCLA 38 – Kansas State 35
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