The UCLA Bruins and Baylor Bears have accepted invitations to play in the 35th annual Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, 2012 President John Wertz announced today. It marks the first appearance for both teams in the San Diego bowl game and it will also be the first meeting between the teams.
The game kicks off at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 27th at Qualcomm Stadium.
"We anticipate this is going to be one heck of a football game on December 27th," said John Wertz, president of the 2012 bowl game. "And it should be a great one for the San Diego community as well. We can't wait to welcome Baylor and UCLA and their legions of fans to our great city later this month."
The Bruins enter the bowl with a 9-4 mark after winning the Pac-12 South Division.
"I know I speak for the coaching staff and our players when I say that the UCLA Football team is very excited to continue our 2012 season in the Holiday Bowl," said Bruins head coach Jim Mora. "We have accomplished some good things this season, and are looking forward to playing one last time together as a team."
The offense is led by senior running back Johnathan Franklin who is the school's all-time leading rusher, and redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley. Franklin, a Doak Walker Award finalist, has carried the ball 268 times for 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns and has 32 receptions for 319 yards. Hundley, meanwhile, has completed 68.2 percent of his passes for 26 touchdowns, and has been intercepted just 11 times. In addition, he has run for 365 yards and nine scores.
A pair of linebackers lead the UCLA defense. Redshirt sophomore Eric Kendricks is fifth in the FBS with 137 tackles and registered 10 or more tackles in eight games this season, including a season high 17 in a 45-43 win at Arizona State. Junior outside linebacker Anthony Barr, meanwhile, is first in the nation in sacks (13.5) and has 20.5 total tackles for loss, along with four forced fumbles and has blocked two kicks.
Baylor Coach Art Briles brings his Bears to San Diego with a 7-5 overall record after closing out the regular season with three straight victories, capped by a 41-34 victory over No. 24 Oklahoma State Dec. 1.
"I'm extremely proud of our team for getting us into a bowl game," said Briles, "especially a bowl with the national reputation that the Holiday Bowl has earned through the years with all of the great games played there. It's an honor for Baylor to play a really good UCLA football team."
Baylor's powerful offense ranks first nationally and boasts the national leaders in total offense, senior quarterback Nick Florence (387.7 ypg), and receiving yards, senior receiver and Biletnikoff Award finalist Terrance Williams (1,764 yards). The Bears rank fifth nationally in scoring, averaging 44.1 points per game. BU's quick-strike attack has totaled nine one-play TD drives this season (16 TD drives of 3 plays or fewer) and scored 20 TDs on drives of one minute or less (40 of 2:00 or less).
The Baylor defense boasts three of the top tacklers in the Big 12. Linebacker Bryce Hager leads the Big 12 with 9.6 tackles per game, while linebacker Eddie Lackey (8.2) and nickleback Ahmad Dixon (8.2) both rank fourth in the conference. BU defense is tied for 10th nationally in interceptions (18) and has totaled eight picks in the last two games, including two returned for touchdowns by Lackey in back-to-back games. After forcing zero turnovers during first three Big 12 games, Baylor forced 15 (12 INTs, three fumbles) turnovers in last six conference games. The Bears are 15-2 when forcing two or more turnovers during defensive coordinator Phil Bennett's two seasons.
Tickets for the 2012 Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl can be purchased by calling TicketMaster at 1-800-745-3000, or by visiting www.BridgepointEducationHolidayBowl.com. Fans can also purchase tickets at Qualcomm Stadium, Window B, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.