WACO, Texas - Baylor has accepted an invitation to play in the 2012 Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, marking the first time in program history the Bears have earned bowl bids in three consecutive seasons.
Baylor will face UCLA from the Pac-12 Conference when the nationally televised (ESPN) Holiday Bowl is played at 8:45 p.m. CST on Dec. 27. Both Baylor and UCLA will be making their Holiday Bowl debuts, and the teams will be meeting for the first time on the gridiron.
"It is very exciting to be going to a bowl game for the third straight year and the Holiday Bowl is widely recognized as one of the best in terms of hospitality, student-athlete experience and atmosphere," said Ian McCaw, Baylor's Director of Athletics. "We need Baylor Nation to rise up and support the Bears by contacting the athletic ticket office to make arrangements to purchase tickets and come to San Diego to be a part of this special event. This is Baylor's first out-of-state bowl game in 20 years, so it is imperative that we have a great turnout to cheer on the Bears against UCLA."
UCLA (9-4, 6-3 Pac-12) started the season 9-2 before dropping consecutive games to Stanford, including Friday's Pac-12 Championship Game. The Bruins are ranked No. 17 in the latest AP Top 25 Poll released Sunday.
Baylor (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) finished the regular season with three consecutive Big 12 Conference victories. The Bears knocked off No. 1 Kansas State on Nov. 17, 52-24, defeated Texas Tech 52-45 in overtime on Nov. 24, and they closed the regular season Saturday with a 41-34 win over No. 23 Oklahoma State. The win over OSU improved Baylor's record to 5-0 in home games against ranked teams over the last two seasons.
"I'm extremely proud of our team for getting us into a bowl game, especially a bowl with the national reputation that the Holiday Bowl has earned through the years with all of the great games played there," Baylor head coach Art Briles said. "It's an honor for Baylor to play a really good UCLA football team."
Baylor has won seven or more games in three straight seasons for the second time in program history and first time since 1949-51, when the Bears combined for 23 victories. Entering the Holiday Bowl, Baylor has 24 wins over its last three seasons, which ties 1985-87 for the most victories over a three-year span in Baylor's 114 seasons of football. The Bears are also 10-1 in the months of November and December over the past two years, and BU is 12-1 at home since the start of the 2011 season.
Baylor's balanced offense leads the nation in total yards (578 ypg), ranks third in passing (353 ypg) and 19th rushing (226 ypg), making it one of three programs nationally (Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M) ranked in the top 20 in both rushing and passing offense.
Baylor has continued to produce big numbers despite losing five offensive starters to the 2012 NFL Draft. The Bears have scored 40 or more points in nine of 12 games this year and 18 of 25 games dating back to the start of the 2011 season. BU's quick-strike attack, which ranks fifth nationally with 44.1 points per game, has totaled nine one-play TD drives this season (16 TD drives of three plays or fewer) and scored 20 TDs on drives of one minute or less (40 of two minutes or less).
The high-octane offense is led by senior quarterback Nick Florence, who leads the nation with 387.7 yards of total offense per game. Florence's favorite target is senior All-American wide receiver Terrance Williams, who leads the nation with 147.0 receiving yards per game. Williams, one of three Biletnikoff Award finalists, has already broken the Baylor single-season receiving yards record (1,764), and he needs 236 receiving yards in the Holiday Bowl to become the second 2,000-yard receiver in NCAA history.
The Bears' late season run has coincided with the emergence of a strong one-two punch in the backfield featuring sophomore Lache Seastrunk and junior Glasco Martin. Seastrunk has 874 rushing yards on the season, including 693 yards and five touchdowns in his last five games, while Martin is second on the team with 791 rushing yards and leads the way with 12 TDs.
Baylor's defense has also stepped up late in the season, intercepting 11 passes over the past five games. The Bears are now 15-2 when forcing two or more turnovers during defensive coordinator Phil Bennett's two seasons.
"These bowls are the fruits of the labor," Briles said. "It's an opportunity to extend your season, to give your fan base an opportunity to travel and support you, and you do all you can do to take full advantage of the opportunity. It'll be a great experience for our players. To be able to go see a new part of the United States, that's what makes bowl games great. It's a new adventure."
Baylor is allotted 11,000 tickets for the 2012 Holiday Bowl. The tickets, which are priced from $65-$85, may be purchased by Baylor Bear Foundation members and 2012 season ticket holders by signing into their accounts online at www.BaylorBears.com/tickets. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the Baylor Athletic Ticket Office at 254-710-1000 or in person at the Ferrell Center box office from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bear Foundation members and season ticket holders must place their orders Dec. 5 by noon CT.
If any tickets remain from the Baylor allotment, they will be available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 6.
Baylor students may purchase tickets to the 2012 Holiday Bowl Dec. 5-7 in the Bill Daniel Student Center Ticket Office. Student tickets, which cost $65, may be purchased from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Dec. 5-7, or until supplies are exhausted. All student tickets will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. Student pick-up instructions will be given at the time of purchase.
Baylor fans interested in travel packages for Baylor's trip to San Diego for the 2012 Holiday Bowl may sign up for information with Anthony Travel. Travel options will be sent via email from Baylor's travel partner as soon as they become available.
| BAYLOR FOOTBALL NOTES
• Baylor has earned a bowl bid in three straight seasons for the first time in program history.
• Baylor has won seven or more games in three straight seasons for the second time in program history and first time since 1949-51.
• Baylor closed the regular season with a three-game winning streak and wins in four of its last five games after starting 0-4 in Big 12 play.
• Baylor is 5-0 against ranked teams at Floyd Casey Stadium since the start of the 2011 season.
• Baylor's powerful & balanced offense leads the nation in total offense (578 ypg), ranks 3rd in passing (353 ypg) and 19th rushing (226 ypg), making it one of three programs nationally (Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M) ranked in the top 20 in both rushing and passing offense.
• Baylor has scored 40+ points in 9 of 12 games this season and 18 of its 25 games over the past two seasons.
• Baylor's offense has nine one-play TD drives this season (16 TD drives of three plays or fewer) and scored 20 TDs on drives of one minute or less (40 of two minutes or less).
• Baylor's 44.08 points per game ranks 5th nationally.
• Baylor's defense has intercepted 11 passes over the last five games.
• Baylor is 15-2 when forcing two or more turnovers during defensive coordinator Phil Bennett's two seasons on campus.
• Baylor's win over then-No. 1 Kansas State on Nov. 17 was the program's first-ever win over a No. 1-ranked team.
• Baylor defeated Oklahoma State for the first time in the Art Briles era.
• Briles has now beaten every Big 12 team that was a member of the league when he joined Baylor in 2008 and is still in the conference.
• According to the latest strength of schedule rankings by the NCAA, Baylor has the 22nd-toughest schedule in FBS (4th-toughest in Big 12).
• Baylor has three of the Big 12's top five tacklers - Bryce Hager (1st, 9.6 tpg), Eddie Lackey (4th, 8.2 tpg) and Ahmad Dixon (t-5th, 8.2 tpg).
• Terrance Williams leads the nation with 147.0 receiving yards per game and ranks 8th with 7.92 receptions per game.
• Nick Florence leads the nation with 387.67 yards of total offense per game.
• Williams' 1,764 receiving yards and 1,778 all-purpose yards are both Baylor single-season records.
• Williams set a Big 12 record with 314 receiving yards and broke the Baylor record with 17 receptions in the West Virginia game.
• Florence broke Baylor's single-game passing yards record with 581 yards at West Virginia.
• Lache Seastrunk's 820 rushing yards in Big 12 Conference play ranks 2nd in the league, while Glasco Martin's 649 rushing yards in league games ranks 6th in the Big 12.
| BRIDGEPOINT EDUCATION HOLIDAY BOWL QUICK FACTS
• This year's game will be the 35th-annual Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.
• Since the Holiday Bowl was inaugurated in 1978, it has played to more than 90% of capacity.
• Seventeen of the 34 games have been decided by a touchdown or less.
• The outcome of 20 of 34 games has been determined in the final four minutes, earning the Holiday Bowl a well-deserved reputation as one of the most entertaining games of the post-season schedule.
• The 2011 Holiday Bowl generated $18.6 million in economic impact.
• The Holiday Bowl has hosted a team from the Big 12 Conference in every season since the league's inception in 1996.
• The Holiday Bowl has matched a team from the Big 12 Conference against a team from the Pac-12 Conference in every season since 1998.
• The conferences have alternated winners every year since 2005, with teams representing the Big 12 winning in odd years and Pac-12 teams winning in even years.
• Baylor will be making its first Holiday Bowl appearance and its first bowl appearance in the state of California - the Bears haven't played an out-of-state bowl game since the 1991 Copper Bowl in Tucson, Ariz.
• Iowa State, Kansas, TCU and West Virginia are the only Big 12 schools to have never played in the Holiday Bowl.
• The 2012 Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl will be televised internationally on ESPN HD as well as heard on ESPN Radio.
| PREVIOUS BRIDGEPOINT EDUCATION HOLIDAY BOWL RESULTS
2011 - Texas 21, California 10
2010 - Washington 19, Nebraska 7
2009 - Nebraska 33, Arizona 0
2008 - Oregon 42, Oklahoma State 31
2007 - Texas 52, Arizona State 34
2006 - California 45, Texas A&M 10
2005 - Oklahoma 17, Oregon 14
2004 - Texas Tech 45, California 31
2003 - Washington State 28, Texas 20
2002 - Kansas State 34, Arizona State 27
2001 - Texas 47, Washington 43
2000 - Oregon 35, Texas 30
1999 - Kansas State 24, Washington 20
1998 - Arizona 23, Nebraska 20
1997 - Colorado State 35, Missouri 24
1996 - Colorado 33, Washington 21
1995 - Kansas State 54, Colorado State 21
1994 - Michigan 24, Colorado State 14
1993 - Ohio State 28, BYU 21
1992 - Hawaii 27, Illinois 17
1991 - Iowa 13, BYU 13
1990 - Texas A&M 65, BYU 14
1989 - Penn State 50, BYU 39
1988 - Oklahoma State 62, Wyoming 14
1987 - Iowa 20, Wyoming 19
1986 - Iowa 39, San Diego State 38
1985 - Arkansas 18, Arizona State 17
1984 - BYU 24, Michigan 17
1983 - BYU 21, Missouri 17
1982 - Ohio State 47, BYU 17
1981 - BYU 38, Washington State 36
1980 - BYU 46, SMU 45
1979 - Indiana 38, BYU 37
1978 - Navy 23, BYU 16