Editor’s note: This game has been canceled because of COVID-19 issues at UCLA
Will North Carolina State’s defense show up in San Diego against the UCLA Bruins in the Holiday Bowl?
UCLA Bruins vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack
Tuesday, December 28, 2021 – 08:00 PM EST at Petco Park
The UCLA Bruins won their last three games of the season to go 8-4 on the year. That 8-4 record has given the Bruins a chance to play in the San Diego Country Credit Union Holiday Bowl against another fantastic football team in the North Carolina State Wolfpack. UCLA averaged 36.7 points per game on the season with over 440 yards of offense per game.
That offense didn’t all come from the passing game. Instead, the offense came from over 215 rushing yards per game. The Bruins weren’t all that great in the passing game.
The blocking wouldn’t hold up sometimes and receivers on the Bruins weren’t all that outside of Kyle Philips, who scored 10 touchdowns on the season as a wide receiver. Defensively is where UCLA had their struggles this season.
The rushing defense allowed 124.3 yards per game. That number might seem a bit low, but capable rushing teams could ultimately have a field day against UCLA on offense. North Carolina State isn’t all that on the ground offensively. The Wolfpack still averaged over 400 yards per game but nearly 300 of it came in the air.
North Carolina has one of the better quarterbacks in the nation in Devin Leary. Leary threw 35 touchdowns on the year with just five interceptions on the year. He protected the football-made plays in one of the greatest offensive conferences in America this year, the ACC.
The Bruins didn’t lack all that much on defense this year, allowing 26.8 points per game. But while the coverage was the best portion of the defense, there was nothing elite about the program either.
Leary will absolutely find his way through UCLA on the offensive end. Meanwhile, the Wolfpack has such a better defense.
NC State allowed under 20 points per game while giving up 331.6 yards per game. North Carolina State wasn’t elite, but the Wolfpack were close with so much consistently throughout each position group on the defensive end. North Carolina State really makes things difficult in the run game, despite allowing 124 yards per game.
Let’s be honest, the ACC is much harder to defend than teams in the Pac-12. We’ll see that on Tuesday, December 28. North Carolina State literally scored about two touchdowns more per game on average this season. They also held some really good offenses to a low amount of yards.
In reality, the ACC developed the best quarterbacks and has the best offenses, minus Clemson. Clemson’s reverse, but teams like Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, North Carolina are all insanely talented on the offensive end.
Therefore, I’ll take North Carolina State for my NCAAF pick here, even with the game being played in San Diego. The Wolfpack have a much more balanced team and played in a harder conference. The ACC didn’t get enough credit this year because Clemson was down. But ultimately, the conference was more competitive and greater because of it.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.