2017 Cactus Bowl Picks – Kansas State vs. UCLA

Is the Cactus Bowl the last time we’re going to see Josh Rosen in college football? It’s entirely possible that Rosen is going to be the top pick in the NFL Draft in a couple months. If that’s the case, watching the UCLA Bruins in the Cactus Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats should be can’t-miss viewing the day after Christmas.

UCLA Bowl History

Part of the reason the Bruins are moving on from Jim Mora and bringing in Chip Kelly is because they haven’t played in a major bowl game since the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day 1999. UCLA lost that contest and is 5-9 in the postseason since that point.

Rosen has only played in one bowl game in his career, a loss in the Foster Farms Bowl in 2015. UCLA’s last postseason win was in the 2014 Alamo Bowl.

Kansas State Bowl History

There’s a reason Bill Snyder has a stadium named after him in Manhattan. He’s taken a team from a small town in Kansas to a bowl game in eight straight seasons. Sure, only one of those matchups was a major postseason contest, the 2012 Fiesta Bowl. But just to be playing in meaningful December football every single season is why he’s the greatest in the history of this school.

Unfortunately, Snyder’s bowl history hasn’t been all that great. The Wildcats did win the Texas Bowl last year, but that victory and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl conquest in 2013 are the only two in his second tenure with the team.

Why UCLA Will Win the Cactus Bowl

Rosen may or may not be the best quarterback in America, but the one thing we know is that there isn’t such a thing as a game ever being over when he’s on the field.

The veteran quarterback has had to overcome all season a defense that has been pathetically bad. His signature moment came right away in Week 1 when the Bruins rallied from five scores down to beat Texas A&M.

Why Kansas State Will Win the Cactus Bowl

The Bruins can’t stop anyone from running the ball against them. They let Hawaii run for 281 yards, Colorado run for 191 yards, Cal run for 216 yards…You get the point.

Whether it’s Skylar Thompson or Alex Delton under center for K-State, both men are incredibly mobile and will take off at a moment’s notice. If you don’t think that’s a problem for the UCLA linebackers, you’ve got another thing coming. Khalil Tate had 230 rushing yards against this defense.

The Wildcats don’t need to run for 300 yards to win the Cactus Bowl, but there’s a decent chance they get there. UCLA averaged conceding 282.7 rushing yards per game, second-worst in the nation.

Cactus Bowl Prediction

UCLA is going to be the sexy pick in this game, but even if Rosen does suit up in what is almost certainly his last collegiate game, he’s going to have to win this one all by himself.

If Rosen wasn’t around in 2017, this would likely be a two-win UCLA team. We know that he can be a special quarterback, but he also has zero help around him. The Bruins can’t run the ball, can’t stop the run, can’t protect the quarterback and hardly force any turnovers. But aside from that, they’ve got a fantastic team.

Cactus Bowl Pick: Kansas State 34, UCLA 28

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