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2021 Holiday Bowl Preview

2021 Holiday Bowl Preview

The 2021 Holiday Bowl features the 8-4 UCLA Bruins against the 9-3 North Carolina State Wolfpack. Here is the 2021 Holiday Bowl Preview.

UCLA Bruins (8-4)

UCLA won eight games to make their first bowl game since 2017. They defeated one bowl-eligible team on the season, which was Hawaii. All four losses came to teams who qualified for a bowl game.

The Bruins’ offense under Chip Kelly scored 36.7 points per game, ranking them 16th in the country. They rush for 215.1 yards (ranked 16th) and pass for 226.2 yards per game (ranked 69th).

Dorian Thompson-Robinson has been the leader of the offense at quarterback for a few seasons. This season, he has passed for 2,409 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions on 62.2 percent completion. Five pass-catchers have over 200 receiving yards on the year. The two main contributors have been Kyle Phillips and Greg Dulcich. Phillips has 59 receptions for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns. Dulcich has been a matchup problem for opposing defenses at tight end with 42 receptions for 725 yards and five touchdowns.

Their running game has been led by Michigan-transfer Zach Charbonnet, who has 1,137 yards and 13 touchdowns. Brittain Brown has helped provide a change of pace with 616 yards and seven touchdowns. Thompson-Robinson has been a great runner at the quarterback position with 609 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

The defense allows 26.8 points per game, which ranks 75th in the FBS. They give up 124.2 rushing yards (ranked 26th) and 260.2 passing yards per game (ranked 111th). Qwuantrezz Knight has had an impressive season with a team lead of 65 total tackles. Quentin Lake has made an impact in the secondary with six passes defended and three interceptions.

NC State Wolfpack (9-3)

NC State won nine games to make their second-straight bowl game. They have victories over team who made bowl games, including a win over Clemson. All three losses came to teams who qualified for bowl games.

The Wolfpack score 33.1 points per game, which ranks 31st in the country. They rush for 126 yards (ranked 100th) and pass for 288.4 yards per game (ranked 19th).

Devin Leary bounced back from an injury last season to have his best season yet in 2021. He has passed for 3,433 yards, 35 touchdowns and five interceptions on 65.7 percent completion. Six pass-catchers have 200 receiving yards on the season. Emeka Emezie has led the team with 60 receptions for 802 yards and six touchdowns. Thayer Thomas and Devin Carter each had over 500 receiving yards as well. Thomas leads the team with eight touchdown catches, while Carter averages 17.9 yards per catch.

Two running backs have done damage for the Wolfpack, creating a good one-two punch. Zonovan Knight leads the team with 753 yards and three touchdowns. Ricky Person Jr. has 636 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

The defense has had a good year, allowing just 19.7 points per game, ranking 18th in the country. They give up 124 rushing yards (ranked 25th) and 207.6 passing yards per game (ranked 33rd). Linebacker Drake Thomas registered 99 total tackles to lead the team. He also tied for the team lead with six sacks and led the team with three interceptions.

Prediction

NC State’s defense has been really good and can slow down the UCLA offense. That paired with Leary being effective and protecting the ball should lead to an NC State win.

NC State Wolfpack 33 UCLA Bruins 27

 

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