College Football Bowl Predictions: UCLA Will Walk over Baylor in Holiday Bowl

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIDecember 27, 2012

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 30:  Johnathan Franklin #23, Simon Goines #70 and Brett Hundley #17 of the UCLA Bruins celebrates after Franklin scored on a twenty yard touchdown run against the Stanford Cardinals in the third quarter during the Pac-12 Championship Game at Stanford Stadium on November 30, 2012 in Stanford, California. Stanford won the game 27-24.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Thursday marks the first day of triple-header action for the college football bowl season.

The Military Bowl, Belk Bowl and Holiday Bowl are all set to take place at venues across the country.

Our focus will be on San Diego, California and the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.

Qualcomm Stadium will play host to the Baylor Bears and No. 17 UCLA Bruins on Thursday night.

While just about everyone watching will be hoping for a close game (except for fans of the Bears or Bruins, of course), this one shouldn't be close.

UCLA will come out with a convincing win Thursday night for several reasons.

For starters, there's Baylor's defense.

The Bears this year were one of the worst defensive teams in the FBS, allowing an average of 38.2 points per game. They were able to stay above water, thanks to their explosive offense, but giving up that many points game-in, game-out will come back to haunt them.

UCLA's offense was 29th in scoring offense this year, tallying an average of 35.1 points per contest. They're virtually a lock to score 30 points tonight, and one has to feel that the only way they can be stopped is if they make a few mental errors on offense.

On the flip side, UCLA's defense isn't nearly as bad as Baylor's, and should apply constant pressure on Bears QB Nick Florence.

Keep an eye out for junior LB Anthony Barr, who leads the Bruins with 13.5 sacks this season and fits in well with Jim Mora's style of tough football.

The fact that this game will be played in California is also an advantage for the Bruins.

Away from home this season, Baylor has managed just one win, with that win coming way back in September, when the Bears beat Louisiana-Monroe in Monroe.

While their last three games were all victories, including two against Top 25 opponents, Baylor just doesn't inspire much confidence away from Waco, Texas.

UCLA should win this one comfortably.


Prediction: UCLA Bruins 48, Baylor Bears 35