Kansas State got on a roll, and UCLA couldn’t do much to stop it in a Cactus Bowl that quickly got out of hand. Here are five things that matter.
2017 Cactus Bowl: Kansas State 35, UCLA 17
5. Josh Rosen was never going to play in this thing
He came out to warm up. He had a uniform. He threw some footballs. And there was some speculation and thought that he was going to go.
No, Josh Rosen wasn’t going to play in the Cactus Bowl.
Not only could he be the No. 1 pick in the draft, but he’s coming off a few injuries and a concussion issue. That he was going to be ready to go at gametime wasn’t going to happen – that’s not how concussions work.
Devon Modster was fine in Rosen’s place. He threw two second quarter touchdown passes and came close to hitting the 300-yard mark. It wasn’t his fault UCLA lost. Rosen might have made a bit of a difference, but he wouldn’t have been able to overcome …
4. Jedd Fisch
From the hokey “When I become a head coach” journal that became a narrative of the broadcast, to taking too many unnecessary chances, Jedd Fisch had a rough day as the interim UCLA head man.
It’s one thing to go for it on fourth down and take some chances – UCLA converted three of the five tries – but a critical midfield misfire led to a 41-yard Alex Barnes touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
The master play-caller couldn’t overcome UCLA’s porous defense, and he couldn’t make the ground game more physical. Not having Rosen hurt, but it was more than that.
Against this bad Kansas State secondary, Modster and his Bruin receiving corps should’ve gone off.
Don’t worry, UCLA fans. Chip Kelly is about to make everything all better.
3. Kansas State finally went Kansas State
It wasn’t always that way this season for the Wildcats.
How does this all work under Bill Snyder? Run well, control the clock, win the penalty battle, dominate in the little things.
The turnover battle was even, but Kansas State had the ball for almost ten minutes more than UCLA, the ground game rumbled for 345 yards, and offense seemed to convert on just about every meaningful third down play and both fourth down attempts – which is a big deal for the nation’s worst team on fourth downs,
UCLA can’t stop the run, so Kansas State ran. And that was it.
2. Alex Delton’s day
Not the first choice at quarterback coming into the season, Delton might just be a star in the Big 12 going into next year.
The now-sophomore hit seven of his ten throws for 52 yards and a touchdown, ran for 158 yards and three scores on 20 carries, and he seemed to give the team a little bit of an attitude once the offense started rolling.
Throw in the 117 yards and a score from RB Alex Barnes, and the K-State rushing attack did what it was supposed to do.
1. Bill Snyder
He hasn’t always been the best of bowl coaches – Kansas State went 1-5 in the post-season after he took back the job in 2009 – but now he has won two straight, has his seventh winning season in the last eight, and he and his staff proved once again that Kansas State can still win.
This might not have been a Big 12 championship season, but 8-5 with a solid Cactus Bowl performance? Throw it onto the pile of all the other fantastic things Snyder has come up with.