By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
It’s been a long time coming but UCLA has landed a Holiday Bowl berth on Dec. 28 at PETCO PARK in San Diego. The opponent will be North Carolina State of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
When asked what he knew about the opponent Bruins coach stated,”Dave Doeren’s the head coach and their called the Wolfpack,” replied Kelly.
The Pack (9-3) is led by Sophomore QB Devin Leary who has a rocket of an arm help lead his team to wins in the last four of its last five games. They have defeated four teams that will be bowl bound.
During the season he threw for 3,433 yards and 35 touchdowns he had six 300-yard games and on a 400-yard game.
The Sicklerville, New Jersey native was the states Gatorade Player of the Year as and junior and senior.
NC State is trying for its first 10-win season since going 11-3 in 2003.
UCLA is playing in it first bowl game since 2017 (The Cactus Bowl).
The teams faced each other twice before with BRUIN wins 1959 (21-12) and 1960 (7-0)
This will be Kelly’s first Bowl game since taking Oregon to the Fiesta Bowl in 2013, soon departing after the season to the NFL.
His first three seasons in Westwood included 3-9, 4-8, and 3-4 before this season’s big one. The game will be the first football game played at Petco Park.
The team will be joined by running back Brittain Brown, who participated in all three recent practices.
Brown missed the final two games of the regular season against USC and Cal, but Kelly has said he was close to playing in both contests and now seems to be fully available.
Brown finished the season with 616 yards rushing in 104 carries a 6 yard average to go with 7 touchdowns. His biggest game came in a 34-16 win at Arizona when he rolled for 146 yards including a 48-yard run and a TD.
His teammate Zach Charbonnet is second in the Pac 12 in rushing with 1,137 yards.
“They’re the most physical runners that we have seen,” former Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “They run behind their pads. Big, powerful leg drive. You saw early in the season against LSU, that’s when people really started to take notice. We had known that, (they’ve) been coming on for a while. Really impressive.”
This is the Bruins 37th Bowl game with the last being a 35-17 loss to Kansas State in 2017.
The Staff will be joined by analyst Clancy Pendergast, the former USC defensive coordinator. He will be the team’s defensive line coach for the bowl game after Johnny Nansen lefty to become Arizona’s defensive coordinator.
“He’s been a godsend to us all season long,” Kelly said of Pendergast, who was also a defensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs, “and the fact that you have a former defensive coordinator in the NFL in your building, that was kind of a no-brainer for us.”