When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Chase Field, Phoenix
Radio: KCSP (610 AM)
Line: Kansas State by 6 1/2
The lowdown: K-State won four of its final five games to finish the regular season 7-5 and hopes to keep that momentum going in the Cactus Bowl. UCLA played with grit and won its final game to become bowl-eligible at 6-6, but the Bruins are a shell of what they were two months ago. Star quarterback Josh Rosen is not expected to play, and coach Jim Mora was fired after a 5-6 start.
K-State key to success: Stop the pass. Rosen topped 400 passing yards in five different games this season. The Wildcats, suspect secondary and all, can’t allow backup quarterback Devon Modster to do the same. Big 12 quarterbacks had their way with K-State, but if it can force Modster into some early mistakes and make the Bruins try to run move the ball on the ground against its front seven it will take its chances.
UCLA key to success: Stop the run. UCLA ranked 129th nationally against the run this season, allowing 282.7 yards per game. The Bruins will need to do better against the ground-oriented Wildcats if they have any hope of winning. It’s possible. UCLA’s run defense got off to a dreadful start, but showed improvement in its final two games.
UCLA player to watch: Jordan Lasley. Look for Modster to lean on his top receiver in this one. Lasley caught 61 passes for 1,136 and eight touchdowns this season.
Key matchup: K-State offensive line vs. UCLA defensive line. The Wildcats will be without right tackle and top blocker Dalton Risner against the Bruins. Pressure will be on Nick Kaltmayer to play well in his absence. The Wildcats will win this game if they win the line of scrimmage.
Kellis Robinett’s prediction: Kansas State 33, UCLA 24. The Wildcats will have continuity, momentum and motivation on their side. Those are big advantages over a Bruins team that will play with a backup quarterback and an interim head coach. This is a good opporutnity for K-State to win back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 2001.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett