The UCLA Football 40-35 victory in the Valero Alamo Bowl over #11 Kansas State is probably the most important experience for the Bruins under Head Coach Jim Mora.
The thing about the Alamo Bowl experience for the Bruins is that it taught them to grow from that post-season experience more than they had in previous years. In Head Coach Jim Mora‘s first year, the Bruins went to the Holiday Bowl and got whooped by Baylor, 49-26. It was as painful as the score indicates. The Bruins were young, in transition and not yet ready to compete in the post-season.
As for the bowl, from a prestige standpoint, it is a decent, mid-tier bowl, but with a loss UCLA suffered, it was not the best experience.
In Year 2, Mora and Co. got a huge win in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. No disrespect to the Virgina Tech team the Bruins faced, but everyone could see UCLA would win this game easily. That was evendent in a 49-19 victory.
As for this bowl, it is not the Orange or Rose, but it is a good bowl with a lot of tradition. It is also a bit quiet. On top of that, it was not a highly advertised bowl (the only one not on ESPN). Still, it was the first experience UCLA Football had in winning a bowl under Mora, which is always good for the future.
But then in 2014, things really took a step in the right direction for the Bruins and honestly, this might have been the most important expereince for the Bruins in Mora’s tenure: winning the Valero Alamo Bowl against #11 Kansas State.
Amd why? Oh where to begin with this one?
Last season, UCLA Football might not have been ready to take on the expectations of a New Year’s Six Bowl or a spot in the College Football Playoff. They needed this experience first.
Let us start with the experience of the bowl itself and its prestige. Now it is not one of the New Year’s Six, but if there was a New Year’s Seven, the Alamo Bowl would be in it. Plus it was the first time the Bruins were playing in a bowl after New Year’s since 1999 in the Rose Bowl, but I will not continue with that as it brings up emotions. This Alamo Bowl was one of four games played on January 2, 2015 so the Bruins and Wildcats had a lot of college football fans watching, especially since it was the marquee bowl game that day.
All of this included mass media coverage which was everywhere. They were following the team’s every move, especially since the Bruins had a full schedule on their hands. Getting to Texas five days early, the Bruins took in a Hosuton Rockets game, they met with the local Boys & Girls Club and even had to find time to practice.
Even the swag bags were better! At the Sun Bowl, the Bruins received a Timely watch, a cap, a fleece pullover, a backpack and a hair dryer. In the Alamo Bowl, UCLA players recieved a GoPro camera, a Fossil watch and, well other stuff, but these two items alone already blow the Sun Bowl’s swag bag out of the water.
The game itself was pretty big. The Bruins played in front of 60,000+. That is a step up form the 47K in the Sun Bowl. The Bruins dominated the first half, held off a huge comeback by Kansas State in the second and we even gopt to see a little drama afterwards between Mora and K-State Head Coacdh Bill Snyder.
Jan 2, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; UCLA Bruins running back Paul Perkins (24) runs the ball for a touchdown during the second half of the 2015 Alamo Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at Alamodome. The Bruins won 40-35. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports dominated the first half, held off a huge comeback by Kansas State and there was even .
Emotions were indeed high, but there was a damn good reason. This was the biggest bowl win in Mora’s tenure. Additionally, it was a victory over one of the highest ranking teams the Bruins have played in the post-season under Mora. This was a big deal.
Last season, UCLA Football might not have been ready to take on the expectations of a New Year’s Six Bowl or a spot in the College Football Playoff. They needed this experience first. It has not only gotten the Bruins ready to handle expectations, but ready to handle the pressure of bigtime match-ups. That, in addition to talent and coaching, is what is needed to become an elite program and I believe the Bruins are now ready to take that step.