Kansas State will meet the University of California, Los Angeles for the Cactus Bowl in Phoenix, Ariz. the day after Christmas.
It will not be the first time, as the two teams have played each other on the gridiron a total of three times. UCLA leads the series 2-1.
The Wildcats and Bruins engaged in a two-year long home-and-home series in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
In 2009, UCLA hosted K-State and won 23-9. The following season, the Wildcats defended their home turf with a 31-22 victory.
Just as will be the case in a couple of weeks, a bowl game was also the setting for their last meeting. The 2014 Alamo Bowl saw then No. 11 K-State fall to then No. 14 UCLA by a score of 40-35.
Usually K-State is known for their strong rush offense and defense. The 2014 Alamo Bowl was contrary to that trend. While it scored two rushing touchdowns, K-State only rushed for 31 yards on 32 attempts. It also gave up 331 yards and four touchdowns on the ground to UCLA.
After trailing 31-6 at halftime, the Wildcats made a spirited comeback attempt. They outscored the Bruins 29-9 in the second half, but it was not enough.
With 4:54 left in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jake Waters punched in a touchdown from one-yard out to cut UCLA’s lead to just six points, 34-28.
Any momentum the Wildcats had was diminished quickly. With a little over two minutes remaining, they gave up a 67-yard touchdown run to Bruin running back Paul Perkins. Their lead was extended to 40-28.
K-State still would not give up. They put one more touchdown on the board, as Jake Waters connected with Tyler Lockett for a 29-yard passing score.
That would prove to be the last score of the night, as UCLA was able to run out the clock to end the game.
Some controversy came as they did so. While UCLA was kneeling the ball, Bill Snyder and his Wildcats didn’t sit back and let them run out the clock, but they continued to play tough defense and go after the Bruins.
Apparently, that did not sit well with UCLA head coach Jim Mora. In response, he only briefly shook Snyder’s hand before leaving the field. He later said he felt that he needed to defend the safety of his players.
No drama will be had in that respect this year, though, as Mora was recently fired and is no longer UCLA’s head coach.
When the 2017 Cactus Bowl rolls around, the Wildcats will look to tie the all-time series with the Bruins. The game is scheduled for Dec. 26 at 8 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN.