This year’s Holiday Bowl will see the unranked UCLA Bruins square off against the 18th-ranked NC State Wolfpack in the first football game in San Diego’s Petco Park.
UCLA (8-4) heads into the Holiday Bowl red hot as the Bruins won three in a row to end the regular season, defeating their opponents by an average margin of 27 points per game during that span. They did not beat up on lowly teams, either. UCLA handled crosstown rival USC 62-33 in its season finale and beat Cal and Colorado by 28 and 24 points respectively.
UCLA has been led all season long by quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (30 total TDs, 6 INTs) and star running back Zach Charbonnet (1,334 all-purpose yards, 13 TDs). Both players will look to show out in the final game of the season.
NC State (9-3) has had a successful season of its own, ending the year ranked in the AP Top 25. The Wolfpack come into this game just as hot as UCLA, winning four of their last five game. The lone loss came in a 45-42 heartbreaker on the road against Wake Forest.
Star quarterback Devin Leary, who figures to get at least some NFL interest, threw for 3,433 yards on the season with a terrific 35 to 5 TD-INT ratio.
All NCAAF gameday odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and current as of 10:00 a.m. ET on Monday, December 13.
NC State vs UCLA Prediction
This game is going to be an all-out battle in my opinion and the bookmakers in Vegas seem to agree. Both of these teams are solid and come into the game with a strong run of recent results.
UCLA and NC State play very different styles of football as the Bruins are very run-oriented and the Wolfpack offense is pass-heavy. Both of these defenses are fairly average, leading me to believe that this could be an offensive showcase that could feature a lot of points.
Holiday Bowl Prediction: UCLA 33, NC State 30
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Holiday Bowl Best Bets
Best Bet: UCLA Moneyline (-105) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
The current spread on this game has NC State as a one-point favorite, so it’s basically a pick’em. I fully expect the spread to eventually get to a PICK, however, as the opening line has already dropped 1.5 points in favor of UCLA.
This game should be close, but the UCLA combination of DTR and Charbonnet will be lethal against an NC State rush defense that ranks 46th in FBS in rushing yards allowed per game.
Back the Bruins to win the Holiday Bowl as your CFB pick of the day.
Best Bet: Over 60 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
While my final score prediction is just above this total, I do like the over quite a bit here as my prediction is on the more conservative side. NC State is averaging 37 points per game over their last five and UCLA is averaging just over 40 points per game in that same timeframe.
If these teams continue on that trajectory in this game, the over will hit comfortably.
I’m backing the over here and would feel comfortable playing it all the way up to 61.5.