Kansas State suffered a letdown the only other time it played in the Alamo Bowl, falling to a Drew Brees-led Purdue on the heels of having its national championship hopes dashed in the Big 12 championship game.
The Wildcats feel they still have plenty to prove this time around, and they’ll have their chance when they meet UCLA in San Antonio on Jan. 2. It’s the first matchup of top 15 teams in the game’s history.
Kansas State (9-3, No. 11 CFP) earned its fifth straight bowl appearance despite a disappointing finish with its 38-27 loss at Baylor on Saturday. Led by senior wide receiver Tyler Lockett’s 93 catches for 1,351 yards, the Wildcats were in the running for a New Year’s Day bowl after finishing 7-2 in the Big 12 — with all three of their losses coming to teams that were ranked in the top 10 when they played.
“This will be one of the top-ranked bowl matchups of any bowl this year, including a couple of the CFP bowls,” said Kansas State athletic director John Currie.
The last time the Wildcats played in the Alamo Bowl was in 1998, a game after they lost the Big 12 championship game to Texas A&M in double overtime. That loss kept Kansas State from playing in the national championship game.
Snyder said he expects the Wildcats to bounce back from the Baylor loss.
“I think everyone was extremely disappointed in the outcome of the ballgame and our performance,” said Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.
The Bruins (9-3, No. 14 CFP) were second in the Pac 12 South this season and had won five games in a row before a regular-season ending loss against Stanford. They’ve been to four straight bowl games and will make their first Alamo Bowl appearance under coach Jim Mora.
Mora is the first UCLA coach to win at least nine games in three straight seasons. The Bruins are led by quarterback Brett Hundley. The junior is UCLA’s all-time leader in total offense and touchdown passes, and he’s thrown for 3,019 yards and 21 touchdowns this season while completing 70.4 percent of his passes.