UCLA (minus 1) vs. Baylor — The Holiday Bowl is usually a high-scoring, watchable affair, and this one should be no different – because Baylor is playing in it. The Bears are No. 1 in the nation in total offense at 578.8 yards per game, and 119th in defense at 513.9 yards. The average Baylor game is a 44-38 victory.
It’s almost surprising that the line doesn’t favor UCLA by more, because clearly the Bruins have the superior defense, and the ability to grind up the clock with Johnathan Franklin (an even 1,700 yards rushing) carrying the ball against a Bears defense that has allowed 56-percent third-down conversions. (All of which makes me wonder if the oddsmakers know something.) This will be a gauge of whether the Big 12 was a league whose scores were inflated by bad defenses or superior offenses; Baylor beat Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech down the stretch.
With Nick Florence having taken over for RGIII at quarterback, Baylor can still make opponents look clueless defensively but I think with Jim Mora at the reins, the Bruins take this seriously, and do enough to keep the potent Bears at bay. UCLA 41, Baylor 35.