It would be greedy of football fans to expect a repeat of last year's Alamo Bowl but don't sell the Holiday Bowl short when it comes to the potential for a Southern California deluge of points.
Baylor and Washington hooked up in last year's Alamo Bowl and it turned out to be the highest-scoring regulation bowl game in history with the Bears winning 67-56. Baylor and UCLA meet in Thursday's Holiday Bowl and the potential is there for another high-scoring contest.
The Bears (7-5) are fifth nationally in scoring at 44 points per game and their 578 yards per game is tops in FBS. Quarterback Nick Florence leads the nation in total offense while senior wide receiver Terrance Williams, a consensus All-American, is one of the nation's top deep threats.
"Their offense is ridiculously good," said UCLA first-year coach Jim Mora. "They go at a real fast tempo. They are comparable to Houston and Arizona (two opponents the Bruins defeated) and probably a little bit faster in their tempo."
The offense has become particularly potent over the last five games with sophomore Lache Seastrunk as the starting running game. His breakaway speed has provided an added dimension.
"He missed two years of football," Baylor Coach Art Briles said of Seastrunk, who spent one season as a red shirt at Oregon and then sat out last season after transferring. "It took some time to get comfortable again. You've got to earn your way into the lineup. He has certainly earned his way in there."
The Bruins (9-4) average 35 points a game. Their offense features a productive senior running back in Johnathan Franklin and a talented redshirt freshman quarterback in Brett Hundley.
Baylor is playing in a bowl game for the third straight season for the first time in school history because of a season-ending three-game winning streak that included an upset of Kansas State, which was No. 1 in the BCS standings.
Bridgework Education Holiday Bowl
Baylor vs. UCLA
Need to know: 8:55 p.m. Thursday, Qualcomm Stadium, ESPN.
Team records: Baylor 7-5, UCLA 9-4.
The Bears lead the nation in total offense and senior quarterback Nick Florence is the top player in FBS in total offense. Baylor has become more potent as its running game as developed. The Bears are 19th in FBS in rushing offense and are averaging 298 yards on the ground over the last five games. That has coincided with sophomore Lache Seastrunk becoming a starter. His breakaway speed is an added dimension and he is averaging nearly 139 yards per game rushing over the last five games. During the season-ending three-game winning streak, the defense forced nine turnovers.
UCLA senior running back Johnathan Franklin gained 1,700 yards rushing this season and is the school's career rushing leader. He also has 32 receptions for 319 yards. Freshman quarterback Brett Hundley completed 68.2 percent of his passes for 3,411 yards, and his 26 touchdowns were second most in a season in school history. Hundley is the team's second-leading rusher with 365 yards. The defense is led by linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Barr's 13 ½ sacks are the most in the nation and UCLA is seventh nationally in sacks. Overall, the Bruins are 73rd in total defense, allowing an average of 409 yards per game.
Baylor has scored 19 of its 69 touchdowns in one minute or less and has 53 plays longer than 30 yards, the most in FBS. ... Quarterback Nick Florence has an FBS-best 19 touchdown passes longer than 20 yards, and he's thrown at least two in seven of 12 games this year. Last year, Robert Griffin III had 22 touchdown passes of at least 20 yards. ... The Bruins played and lost in the Pac-12 championship game for the second consecutive year. Stanford defeated UCLA, 27-24. ... UCLA safety Tevin McDonald, a sophomore who is the Bruins' second-leading tackler, will not play in the bowl game because of an undisclosed violation of team rules.