When No. 18 NC State and UCLA face off in Tuesday’s Holiday Bowl, it will be an opportunity for both teams to reach rare plateaus. A win for the Wolfpack (9-3) would get them to 10 victories for the first time since 2002, when they finished 11-3 with Phillip Rivers at quarterback. UCLA (8-4) can reach nine wins for the first time since 2014 if it can notch its first bowl victory since that same season.
Those bigger-picture program goals should be enough to motivate both squads as they play each other for the first time since 1960. UCLA has played in the Holiday Bowl once before, back in 2012, when it lost 49-26 to Baylor. But this will be NC State’s first appearance in the game. It’s a chance for both teams to end long droughts in postseason games.
The Wolfpack last won a bowl in 2017 when they knocked Arizona State in the Sun Bowl, while the Bruins last won a bowl after the 2014 season when they beat Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl. For both, a victory here would likely be enough to earn them a spot in the final AP poll after each has finished on the outside looking in every season since their last bowl victories.
UCLA vs. NC State: Need to know
UCLA’s run game: The Bruins rank 15th nationally with an average of 215.1 yards rushing per game. Both Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown are averaging more than 5.5 yards per carry, and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is a threat with his legs as well. It will be a great battle in the trenches when UCLA has the football, as the Wolfpack defense ranks 24th nationally in yards allowed per game at 124.
NC State’s pass game: NC State’s passing attack, led by quarterback Devin Leary, ranks 19th nationally at 288.4 yards per game, and it should be a huge advantage in this game. UCLA ranks 111th nationally…