America is a country crazy for football, but player’s in this year’s edition of the annual Foster Farms Bowl know it goes beyond blocking, passing and tackling this time of year. Athletes from both schools, UCLA and Nebraska, will also be serving food to families in need this holiday season.
Players from the Bruins and Cornhuskers will spend part of Christmas Day helping to feed guests at Glide Memorial Church and St. Anthony’s Dining Room, in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. Ticket sales for the bowl game, which will be held Saturday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara will raise money for these and other numerous anti-hunger campaigns. While not considered to be the most glamorous of the FBS bowl games, the sentiment of its mission should push its attention up the ladder—the game will be carried nationally on TV and radio by ESPN.
Pregame events for the game began Tuesday, and have included dinners, a luncheon, and sight-seeing tours of San Francisco for members of the two teams.
Per the bowl agreement, the match pits schools from the Pac-12 and Big Ten against each other. Neither school carries a record that makes this must-see football — the Bruins finished the regular season 8-4, the Cornhuskers 5-7 — but both school’s possess rich football history.
“UCLA vs. Nebraska is the type of matchup we dreamed about when we made our agreements with the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences,” President of the San Francisco Bowl Game Association Gary Cavalli said in a news release. “Nebraska was the hard-luck team of 2015, with five losses in the closing seconds, but they’re also a team no one wants to play.”
For Nebraska, it’s their inaugural appearance in the game, and the school’s 52nd-overall bowl invitation—the third-most of any school in the country. The Cornhuskers have appeared in a bowl game in 45 of their past 47 season’s. Nebraska head coach Mike Riley is no stranger to the game, in 2007, he guided Oregon State over Maryland 23-13 to the then-Emerald Bowl title. In his first season at the helm, Riley has had a difficult run of things—Nebraska had previously won at least nine games in their last seven seasons. However, Riley led the Huskers to an upset victory over the No. 7 ranked Michigan State Spartans, it was Michigan State’s first loss of the season. He carries an overall 6-2 bowl game record, which ranks him among the top 10 in college football history among coaches with at least eight bowl appearances.
UCLA is appearing in the school’s 35th bowl game. Like Nebraska, Jim Mora’s Bruins have a bowl streak of their own, punching the postseason ticket in 11 of their past 13 seasons. UCLA began the season with a No. 13 ranking, and followed suit with an impressive 4-0 start, including wins over Top 25 teams BYU and Arizona. Eventually climbing to the No. 7 ranking, things began to cool off for the Bruins with a home loss against Arizona State, and followed that up with a blowout loss to the Stanford Cardinal. Quarterback Josh Rosen was named Pac-12 offensive freshman of the year, he threw for 3,349 yards and 20 touchdowns—likely something that will come in handy against a Cornhusker defense which ranked No. 13 out of 14 Big Ten teams. A win would make for the 12th consecutive bowl victory against a non-conference opponent.
Ticket prices to attend the game start at $40, and can be purchased here.
David Barclay is a Bay Area sports insider for byteclay.com. E-mail: email@example.com Twitter: @DJamesIII