The Pac-12’s UCLA Bruins will meet the Big Ten’s Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 2015 Foster Farms Bowl, it was announced Sunday by Bowl Executive Director and co-founder Gary Cavalli.
The two teams square off on Saturday, December 26 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, the home of the San Francisco 49ers and site of Super Bowl 50, to be played February 7, 2016.
The Foster Farms Bowl is scheduled for a 6:15 p.m. PST kickoff and will be shown to a national audience by ESPN. This year’s kickoff marks the fourth prime time exposure in the last six years for the game, founded in 2002 and previously known as the Emerald Bowl & Fight Hunger Bowl.
“We’re very excited to select two of the top programs in college football to play in the 2015 Foster Farms Bowl,” Cavalli said. “UCLA vs. Nebraska is the type of matchup we dreamed about when we made our agreements with the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences….two iconic brands with a great history.
“Nebraska was the hard-luck team of 2015, with five losses in the closing seconds, but they’re also a team no one wants to play. Jim Mora has done a tremendous job in Westwood, and he’s bringing the top freshman quarterback in the country with him, Josh Rosen.
“This will be the third time we’ve had UCLA in our game,” Cavalli added. “Athletic director Dan Guerrero and all the Bruins are great to work with. We’ve also hosted Nebraska coach Mike Riley and his staff when they were at Oregon State. They’re fantastic people. We look forward to welcoming both teams and giving them a memorable experience in San Francisco and at Levi’s Stadium.
UCLA and Nebraska have met 12 times, with each team winning six. Their most recent contest was in 2013. Nebraska led 21-3 early, but UCLA roared back with 38 unanswered points for a 41-21 decision. This is the first bowl meeting between the two iconic programs.
UCLA coach Jim Mora has advanced to postseason competition in each of his four Bruin seasons. The Bruins defeated Kansas State in the 2014 Alamo Bowl and upended Virginia Tech in the 2013 Sun Bowl. Overall, UCLA is 16-17-1 in postseason competition dating back to 1942.
This season, the Bruins put together 4- and 3-game win streaks en route to an 8-4 overall record, 5-4 in the Pac-12. Highlights included a hard-fought 17-9 road win at Top 15 opponent Utah in mid-November.
Nebraska lost several last-second contests in accruing its 5-7 overall record, with four setbacks coming by five points or less. Coach Mike Riley is in his first Nebraska season, moving to Lincoln after 15 years at Oregon State. Riley’s Oregon State squad was the 2007 Emerald Bowl champion, beating Maryland 21-14.
The Foster Farms Bowl game marks UCLA’s fifth bowl trip in the past six years. The Bruins are tied with Boston College for most total appearances in the Bay Area’s bowl game, having previously played in 2007 against Florida State and 2011 against Illinois. UCLA looks for its first Northern California bowl victory. Boston College appeared here following the 2003, 2009 and 2010 seasons.
“Not only will it be fun to get back to a place my family called home for many years,” said Mora, a former 49ers assistant coach said. “Facing a storied program like Nebraska presents our young men with a tremendous challenge. We are looking forward to putting the pads back on, competing hard and making the most of this opportunity.”
UCLA’s vaunted freshman QB Josh Rosen completed 59.5 percent of his passes [266-447-3,351 yards-20 TD-9 INT]. Rosen passed for 300+ yards in five of 12 starts and was intercepted only twice over his final six games. He passed for two or more TDs six times and guided UCLA to victory in four of the last six contests.
UCLA’s aerial attack centers on five receivers who account for 212 of the team’s 274 catches. Senior WR Jordan Payton led the way with 75, including a season high 14 against Washington State. Junior WR Thomas Duarte grabbed 49 and turned 10 of those into a team-leading 10 TDs. PK Ka’imi Fairbairn is one of the nation’s top kickers. He converted all 44 of his PATs and was 20-of-23 on field goals, including a school record 60-yarder.
Senior RB Paul Perkins earned 1st team all-Pac-12 honors as the team’s leading rusher [225-1,275-5.7 YPG-13 TD].
UCLA tied for the Pac-12 lead in sacks with 27, and was second with 12 INTs.
Nebraska, one of college football’s premier programs, boasts a potent receiving threat in WR Jordan Westerkamp [63-874 yards-7 TDs], who pulled in 26 more receptions than his closest teammate. Westerkamp, Brandon Reilly and Alonzo Moore accounted for 17 of the Huskers’ 26 total touchdowns through the air.
“We are excited to complete our season in the Foster Farms Bowl,” Riley said. “This has been a great group to coach throughout the season, and we look forward to another game with this team and being able to compete against a strong UCLA team in the bowl game. The bowl practices and additional game will allow us to continue to build as a program.
“I know our players, coaches and fans will enjoy the trip to the Bay Area. We look forward to an outstanding week of activities and an excellent football game.” The Huskers’ alltime bowl record now stands at 25-26.
QB Tommy Armstrong Jr [210-383-2,856-yards, 21 TD-16 INT] runs a diversified offense which features RB Terrell Newby [143-743-5.2 avg-5 TD].
This year’s game marks the second post-season bowl to be played at Levi’s® Stadium. The Foster Farms Bowl, originated in 2002, played the first 12 games at AT&T Park, home of the 3-time World Series champion San Francisco Giants. The game was previously known as the Diamond Walnut Bowl (2002-2003), Emerald Bowl (2004-2009), Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (2010-2012) and the Fight Hunger Bowl (2013).
The Bowl and the 49ers reached agreement in November 2012 to move the game to Santa Clara. The Bowl was the first non-49ers event to commit to the state-of-the-art, $1.3 billion stadium, located in suburban Santa Clara, CA.