(This is part four of a ten part series in which I break down each of the Big Ten team’s bowl games. Other bowl previews are linked at the bottom of this article or found on my article page)
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl– San Francisco, CA (AT&T Park)
December 31st, 3:30pm ET
Illinois (6-6, 2-6 Big Ten) vs. UCLA (6-7, 5-4 Big 12)
Spread: Illinois -3
Illinois: Since beating Indiana on October 8th Illinois has been in a free fall, dropping their last six straight games. After the season Coach Ron Zook was fired. During the losing streak the offense has only scored over 20 points one time. The Illini have a star at WR in A.J. Jenkins, but the second leading receiver only has 220 yards. QB Nathan Scheelhaase has dual threat capabilities, passing for almost 2000 yards and rushing for 514 yards. On the season Illinois averaged 22.8 points per game (91st in the FBS) and allowed 20.1 points per game (21st in the FBS).
The Illini defense has played well despite the losing streak. Whitney Mercilus leads the Big Ten in sacks with 14.5.
UCLA: Despite several blowout losses and a 6-6 record in the regular season UCLA played in the Pac-12 Championship game against Oregon. However that was not enough to save Coach Rick Neuheisel’s job. On offense UCLA has been balanced, averaging 191 yards rushing and 198 yards passing per game. The Bruin ground game is a two headed monster with Jonathan Franklin (947 yards) and Derrick Coleman (726 yards) leading the way. On defense the Bruins have had issues all season, including giving up 45 points or more in five games leading to a season average of 32.2 points per game (96th in the FBS). UCLA has only won four bowl games in there last 12 attempts.
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