Hello Off Tackle Empire denizens and Big Ten Football fans,
Look, I realize that we've been a little slow on the uptake for actual bowl coverage. In our defense, writing takes time and after a long season, Also, I'm pretty sure I have been saying for weeks that we've been slow on the uptake of full bowl coverage and that we would do something about that. It turns out that this is probably my fault. "Well Jesse, that's dumb," I hear you all saying. To that I would respond that yes, yes it is dumb.
That all gets rectified this afternoon. Yes, today is the day we talk about the Foster Farms Bowl featuring the Nebraska Cornhuskers and their five wins against those crazy UCLA Bruins and their more than five wins. It's a matchup that - on paper - seems a little out of tilt, but it might be closer than you think. We are going to look at the who, what, where, when, why, and how (sorta) of the game and maybe even pick a winner.
Let's get this in-depth bowl coverage started!
Where is this bowl game?
Well, it's being played in Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers. The problem - or ridiculousness - is that the stadium is not in San Francisco, but rather in Santa Clara. So that's fun?
Note: This is basically in San Jose, not San Francisco, but hey, whatever. It's California. California is beautiful.
When is this game?
December 26th, 8:15 PM Central, ESPN
Who is in this game?
I told you. It's Nebraska - coached by Mike Riley - and UCLA - coached by Jim Mora Jr..
Nebraska comes into this game riding a one game losing streak, and is rocking a beautiful 5-7 record. Wait, what is that? 5-7? You can thank 40 bowls, an incredibly good APR score, and some mediocrity across football for that one, but it is what it is. The Cornhuskers certainly don't feel bad about being here.
UCLA, on the other hand, seems to be feeling a little less cool about things. They are rocking an 8-4 record with a painful obliteration at the hands of their crosstown rivals of USC. Earlier in the season, the Bruins looked like they might be a darkhorse playoff pick, but some inconsistency - and a pretty bad conference year overall - has sunk them to this game.
What's in it for the participants?
For UCLA, they've got a 9 win season on the line, and let me tell you... that is as important as it gets... Also, I'd argue that it shows this young team that they can win. Winning is fun. Winning is good for morale. I don't know what else to tell you here. It's a game against a 5 win opponent, that's about all you get to play for. That and a trophy.
For Nebraska, a win avoids a 8 loss season. They had 9 wins last year. Let's go ahead and say that 6-7 > 5-8 for lots and lots of reasons. Oh, and that sweet sweet trophy!
Photo credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
What's in it for the fans?
Well, that depends... I'm going to break this down into a few categories.
1) Nebraska fan (me) - This is the last time you're going to watch Nebraska play football this year, and even though you probably feel like this will end poorly, football > no football, so... that's what is in it for you.
2) Non-Nebraska, Big Ten fan - This is the last time you're going to get to laugh at Nebraska, and it is one fewer game left in the Big Ten season. For various hilarious reasons, Nebraska backed into this spot and now has the chance to either defend the conference name OR fall to 5-8. That seems like there certainly more upsides than downsides.
3) Everyone else - Oh, did I mention freshman QB Josh Rosen of UCLA? Well I should. He has been up and down, like frosh are wont to do - but he is phenomenal and you should tune in to see how Nebraska handles him. Rosen piled up 3,351 passing yards and tossed 20 TDs. On the other side, please enjoy the insanity of Tommy Armstrong Jr. He can throw deep bombs that look perfect and will throw to no one but the other team the next possession. He threw 21 TDs AND 16 INTs. Fun times if you ask me.
Bullet points that don't fit the above but should fill in the details
- There is an incredibly good chance that you should choose the UCLA Bruins if you're picking. They're 6.5 point favorites and have a passing offense that should give Nebraska fits. Yes, Nebraska got better down the stretch, but things are still not peachy in the secondary. Oh, and did you know Nebraska lost another DB to getting kicked off the team? Jonathan Rose got his third infraction and Coach Mike Riley asked him to leave. They'll probably not miss him too much, but you hate to see it. He was a Senior.
- In some not-so-fun news, UCLA OC Noel Mazzone was hospitalized. It's a TBD from Mora on if he'll be able to call plays. Something to keep an eye on?
- UCLA under Jim Mora Jr. is 2-1, with only a loss to Baylor in his first year. Mike Riley is 6-2 in bowls overall, and Nebraska is 25-26 in bowls. Since they haven't ever been in this situation together before, it will be something fun to watch I think.
- Foster Farms sells chickens and turkeys in both fresh and frozen manners. According to their website, they've been around since 1939. In a related note, the B1G and Pac 12 will split $2,212,500 for being in this bowl.
- This bowl has been around since 2002 and was originally the San Francisco Bowl, went to Diamond Walnut Bowl, then the Emerald Bowl, then the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, the Fight Hunger Bowl, and finally the Foster Farms Bowl. Have I mentioned bowls are amazing and ridiculous? Oh, and let's remind viewers at home that the San Francisco Bowl is now being played in Santa Clara. Fun times y'all.
- UCLA has lost this bowl twice (2006, 2011), Nebraska has never played in it.
Nebraska 27 - UCLA 34... UCLA wins on an end-of-game play because sure, that would bookend things just peachy for the Cornhuskers.