The date, location and opponent for the UCLA bowl game are set. The Bruins play Pittsburgh on December 30 at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
But a lot of uncertainty remains. Who will play for the Bruins in their first bowl game since 2017? And who will call their defense?
UCLA coach Chip Kelly can likely answer some of those questions when he speaks to reporters later Sunday, but doubts about the status of NFL-eligible players could linger for several days.
When he last spoke to reporters late last month, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson said he hasn’t decided whether to play in the bowl game or prepare for the NFL draft. The fifth-year senior conceded that it would be difficult to opt out of the Las Vegas Bowl being played in his hometown, but that opportunity was removed from the (blackjack) table when the Las Vegas Bowl picked Oregon State over Florida .
Other players who could drop out of the bowl game include running back Zach Charbonnet and wide receiver Jake Bobo.
There’s also the matter of UCLA defense coordinator Bill McGovern, who has returned to practice as a visitor in recent weeks but has missed the last five games due to what is believed to be a health issue. Analyst Clancy Pendergast has taken a seat in the press box during McGovern’s games while she worked with a group of experienced assistants to handle defensive playcalling.
UCLA will make its first appearance in the Sun Bowl since 2013 when they delivered a 42-12 win over Virginia Tech. Pittsburgh (8-4) tied for second in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division with Duke after winning their last four games, including a triumph over 20th-ranked Syracuse.
UCLA’s placement was not unexpected after the Bruins lost two of their last three games to end the regular season. As recently as early November, as a candidate for the Fringe College Football Playoffs, the Bruins were stunned at home by Arizona before going down in a 48-45 heartbreaker against USC.
A narrow triumph over California the day after Thanksgiving gave UCLA (9-3 overall, 6-3 Pac-12) their most wins since 10-3 in 2014 when the Bruins were selected to the Alamo Bowl.
With a win later this month, the Bruins can tie the school record for wins set in 1946 and equaled in 1982, 1987, 1988, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2013 and 2014. Season plans from 2006 with 12 instead of 11 games.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/ucla/story/2022-12-04/ucla-pittsburgh-football-sun-bowl UCLA will face Pittsburgh in the Sun Bowl