UCLA will face Kansas State in Cactus Bowl
UCLA waited until the final day of its regular season to secure bowl eligibility and had to wait until even after ESPN’s four-hour selection show Sunday to learn its bowl fate.
The Bruins (6-6, 4-5 Pac-12) were selected to play in the Cactus Bowl against Kansas State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12) on Dec. 26 in Chase Field in Phoenix at 6 p.m. PT.
UCLA inched into a bowl with a 30-27 win over Cal in its regular-season finale and earned its fifth bowl game in six years, missing one last year for the first time during the Jim Mora era. UCLA has never played in the Cactus Bowl.
“It means everything considering that we didn’t go to a bowl game last year,” receiver Jordan Lasley said of earning a postseason game after UCLA clinched bowl eligibility. “Playing in a bowl game this year, that was definitely everything that I wanted to get for my team. That was my mindset going in, let’s get this win for my teammates and then we can go bowling.”
Interim head coach Jedd Fisch and the rest of Mora’s coaching staff will coach the Bruins through the bowl game as new head coach Chip Kelly continues to assemble his coaching staff.
UCLA avoided an unaffiliated bowl game with Washington’s trip to Fiesta Bowl that put two Pac-12 teams into the New Year’s Six games. USC and Washington both playing in Jan. 1 bowl games allowed the Bruins to slip into the final Pac-12 game.
The Bruins were tied with Oregon in the conference standings, but the Las Vegas Bowl, which picks sixth, opted for the Ducks to face Mountain West champion Boise State.