Last Updated Dec 07, 2022, 3:50 PM

Holiday Bowl Picks, Predictions and Odds: UCLA vs. N.C. State

Dec. 28, 2021
Dan Dobish
VI Betting Expert

The UCLA Bruins (8-4) of the Pac-12 Conference hook up with the NC State Wolfpack (9-3) at Petco Park in San Diego for the Holiday Bowl on Tuesday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET, and the game can be viewed on ESPN.

Score Prediction

UCLA 41, NC State 37

Best Bets

UCLA +112 ML at FanDuel

UCLA +2 (-105) at DraftKings

Over 59.5 (-110) at BetMGM

Holiday Bowl Predictions

The Bruins limp into this game with some COVID issues, but they're still tentatively scheduled to be able to field a team and take part in this classic bowl. DB Qwuantrezz Knight will be unavailable to play after a positive test for the coronavirus, and several others are awaiting tests to determine their fate, as of Monday night. Redshirt freshman QB Parker McQuarrie also announced he has entered the transfer portal, so he will not be available to serve as a backup to Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Ethan Garbers. In addition to McQuarrie, starting punter Luke Akers, DL AJ Campbell, EDGE Myles Jackson and S DJ Warnell elected to hit the portal after the season, too.

UCLA DL Otito Ogbonnia has also declared for the 2022 NFL Draft, although there is no official word less than 24 hours before kickoff if he will be available, or if he will elect to opt out of this game. Ogbonnia had 27 total stops (15 solo) with two sacks, two passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. If he joins Knight in the street clothes, the UCLA defense will have some depth issues. Knight led the team with 65 total tackles (47 solo), 2.5 sacks, three passes defensed and three forced fumbles.

The good news for NC State is that they have had no notable opt outs or NFL Draft declarations, as they search for that elusive 10th victory of the season. The Wolfpack haven't had double-digit victories since winning 11 games under Chuck Amato during the 2002 season, ending with a No. 12 ranking and a Gator Bowl win. If NC State can notch a 10th win here, it would be just the second such season in school history.

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Holiday Bowl Betting Resources

  • Matchup: Pac-12 vs. ACC
  • Date: Tuesday, December 28, 2021
  • Venue: Petco Park
  • Location: San Diego, California
  • TV-Time: FOX, 8:00 p.m. ET

UCLA Bruins Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 8-4
  • ATS: 8-4
  • O/U: 7-5

The Bruins head to San Diego for a bowl game for the first time under Chip Kelly's watch. UCLA is back in the postseason for the first time since the Cactus Bowl on Dec. 26, 2017, a 35-17 spanking at the hands of Kansas State from the Big 12. Prior to that, the Bruins lost to Nebraska 37-29 in the Foster Farms Bowl on Dec. 26, 2015. You must look to Jan. 2, 2015, when UCLA topped K-State 40-35 in an entertaining Alamo Bowl for the team's most recent postseason victory. The Bruins are just 6-12 SU across the past 18 bowl games dating back to 1991. The good news is that the Bruins haven't lost three consecutive bowl appearances since losing their first five bowl games from Jan. 1, 1943 through Jan. 1, 1962.

The last time the Bruins faced an ACC foe in a bowl was the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31, 2013, a 42-12 paddling of Virginia Tech in El Paso, as QB Brett Hundley and LB Jordan Zumwalt lit it up for co-MVP honors. These institutions have faced each other twice before on the gridiron, with UCLA leading the all-time series 2-0. The last meeting was a 7-0 win for the Bruins on Oct. 29, 1960 in Los Angeles, so yeah, it's been a while.

UCLA is 5-2 ATS across the past seven games overall, and 5-2 ATS in the past seven games as an underdog. However, they're also just 1-6 ATS in the past seven against teams with a winning overall record, while going 4-14 ATS in the past 18 non-conference tilts. They're a dismal 2-5 ATS in the past seven neutral-site affairs, too.

N.C. State Wolfpack Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 9-3
  • ATS: 7-5
  • O/U: 7-5

The Wolfpack are hoping three tries is a charm after losing the past two bowl games, both the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. The last win for NC State came in the Sun Bowl against another Pac-12 foe, Arizona State, as the Wolfpack won 52-31 on Dec. 29, 2017. NC State is a respectable 8-5 SU in bowl games dating back to Jan. 1, 2003, another Gator Bowl appearance. This will be NC State's third-ever bowl game against a Pac-12 institution, as it also lost 17-10 to Arizona in the Copper Bowl on Dec. 31, 1989.

NC State relished the role of favorite, going 5-0 ATS in the past five bowl games as a favorite, and 6-1 ATS in the past seven neutral-site affairs when favored. They're also an impressive 8-3-1 ATS in the past 12 bowl trips. They get wins when it counts, too, posting a 4-1 ATS mark in the past five appearances in the month of December.

As far as the total is concerned, NC State has cashed the OVER in seven of the past eight bowl appearances, while going 9-1 in the past 10 neutral-site affairs, and 7-3 in the past 10 games overall. The OVER is also 9-4 in the past 13 games against winning teams, too.

Inside the Stats - UCLA Bruins

  • Record: 8-4
  • VI Ranking: 28
  • Points Scored: 438
  • Points Allowed: 321
  • PS/G: 36.5
  • PA/G: 26.8

Inside the Stats - N.C. State Wolfpack

  • Record: 9-3
  • VI Ranking: 14
  • Points Scored: 397
  • Points Allowed: 236
  • PS/G: 33.1
  • PA/G: 19.7

Key Players to Watch

  • UCLA: Zach Charbonnet - RB (202 rushes, 1,137 yards, 13 TD)
  • UCLA: Dorian Thompson-Robinson - QB (176/284, 2,409 yards, 30 total TDs, 6 INT)
  • NCST: Emeka Ekezie - WR (60 receptions, 802 yards, 6 TD)
  • NCST: Devin Leary - QB (283/431, 3,433 yards, 35 TD, 5 INT)

Holiday Bowl Betting Conclusion

UCLA's offense had its most productive three-game stretch during Chip Kelly's watch to close out the regular season, going for 42, 62 and 44 points. The 62-point effort was especially sweet since it came against rival USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, so this offense led by DTR, Charbonnet and company is a force to be reckoned with. But Leary and the Wolfpack can sling it, too, and NC State also finished up strong with an average of 39.0 PPG across the final three games, and 27 or more points in each of the past 10 outings, and 11 of the 12 regular-season contests this season. Hopefully the scoreboard operator at Petco Park has limbered up those fingers, because they're going to be busy operating a red-hot scoreboard.

NC State closed the season on a 3-0 run to the OVER. While the defense was tremendously strong early in the season, they showed some signs of wear down the stretch, allowing 30 points to rival North Carolina in a win at Carter-Finley on Nov. 26, and 45 points allowed at Wake Forest on Nov. 13 in a crazy game with 87 total points. I expect a similar showing on the left coast for NC State, as it can score plenty of points with Leary at the helm, but it can also cough up plenty to a talented offense like UCLA. This one is going to be fun, like the Holiday Bowl usually is, despite the venue change. I love the OVER here, and I don't think it's going to be close.

Holiday Bowl Betting Trends

  • UCLA is 5-2 ATS in the past seven games overall.
  • UCLA is 1-6 ATS in the past seven against winning teams.
  • UCLA is 4-14 ATS in the past 18 non-conference games.
  • UCLA is 5-2 ATS in the past seven games as an underdog.
  • NC State is 5-0 ATS in the past five as a bowl game favorite.
  • NC State is 8-3-1 ATS in the past 12 bowl games overall.
  • NC State is 4-1 ATS in the past five December appearances.
  • The OVER is 4-1 in the past five games for UCLA.
  • The OVER is 7-3-1 in UCLA's past 11 as an underdog.
  • The OVER is 7-1 in the past eight for UCLA vs. winning teams.
  • The OVER is 7-1 in the past eight bowl games for NC State.
  • The OVER is 7-3 in the past 10 games overall for NC State.

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