ESPN's Brian Griese previews Holiday Bowl matchup between Baylor and No. 17 UCLA

At first glance, it may look like UCLA is on a bit of a skid heading into tonight’s Holiday Bowl against Baylor. The Bruins have lost two in a row after a 9-2 start.

But did UCLA really end the regular season playing poorly? Both of the Bruins’ losses came at the hands of No. 6 Stanford, the second of which came in the Pac-12 championship game and sent the Cardinal to the Rose Bowl. And the Bruins were in position to win the conference title game before falling 27-24.

“Obviously, Stanford is a heck of a football team,” said ESPN analyst Brian Griese, who will call tonight’s game beginning at 6:45 PT. “It could have gone either way in the championship game. UCLA is an outstanding team. I think if you look at their whole season, it’s been a special year for UCLA.”

The Bruins are the third Pac-12 team to play in a bowl game so far. Arizona started things off with a thrilling comeback win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl, and then Washington dropped a 28-26 heartbreaker to No. 19 Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

After tonight’s game, there will be five more bowl games involving conference teams – Arizona State meets Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Oregon State faces Texas in the Alamo Bowl, USC plays Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, Stanford meets Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and Oregon matches up against Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and Alamo Bowl air on ESPN, the Rose Bowl is on ABC and the Fiesta Bowl will be televised by FOX. The Sun Bowl is on CBS.

First things first tonight in San Diego. UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin and quarterback Brett Hundley will try to light up the scoreboard in a game in which the Bears figure to score their share of points. Baylor has the top-ranked offense in the country.

UCLA will try to meet the challenge by countering with a defense led by talented linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks.

“I don’t know if you can stop their offense,” Griese said of the Bears. “They have so many weapons and so much pace. They make you defend every inch of grass, both horizontally and vertically.”

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