Fight Hunger Bowl Picks & Predictions: UCLA vs. Illinois 12/31/11

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It might not be the prettiest bowl game in the world, but the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl definitely doesn’t lack its intrigue. We are set to make our NCAA football bowl picks in the clash between the Illinois Fighting Illini and the UCLA Bruins out in San Francisco.

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Fight Hunger Bowl Matchup: UCLA Bruins vs. Illinois Fighting Illini
Fight Hunger Bowl Date/Time: Saturday, December 31st, 3:30 ET
Fight Hunger Bowl Location: AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA
Fight Hunger Bowl Odds: Illinois -2.5
Fight Hunger Bowl Total: 47
Fight Hunger Bowl TV Coverage: ESPN,

When you look at the Illini and the Bruins, you have to wonder what either team is really doing in a bowl game this year. Illinois lost its final six games of the season and really never had anything going in that stretch, while UCLA finished out the year with a 50-0 loss to the USC Trojans and a 49-31 loss to the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 Championship Game in a duel that was never really all that close. Both teams have already fired their coaches, which sets this one up to be a bit of a dog. If there is a game that we would so much rather see the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Ball State Falcons, this could be the game.

Suspensions are going to be playing a key role in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Four have already been suspended for this game by the Bruins, including one of the two quarterbacks on this roster, QB Richard Brehaut, while two, including leading rusher RB Jason Ford are going to be kept on the sidelines for Illinois.

It’s not often that we think that there is a real problem that is going to arise offensively in a bowl game, but just looking at the most recent games that the Illini have played should prove why this one might not be the prettiest bowl game of the bunch. They haven’t scored more than 17 points in a game since November 8th (which also happens to be the last time that they won a game…), and they haven’t had a game reach more than 45 points in that stretch either. UCLA did score 31 against Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, but it never had a shot against USC and only scored six and 12 in its two other previous road games at the Utah Utes and Arizona Wildcats. With Brehaut not making the trip to San Fran, the Bruins know that they are going to have to do a good job protecting QB Kevin Prince, as he is the only healthy signal callers on the roster. That’ll be a tough task against an Illini defense that was sneakily good this season.

Even though this is as close to a home game as the Bruins were going to get this year, they just aren’t worthy to be in a bowl game. They may have a shot at scoring some point at least, but we just don’t that that is going to happen when push comes to shove. Illinois won’t get it going either in this long, long trip out to California, and unless all of a sudden, someone figures out how to move the football on this squad without Ford carrying the load, we just don’t see the points hitting the board. We wouldn’t be all that shocked to see this game end in the 20s, not in the 40s or the 50s which would be required to push this one past the number.

Free Fight Hunger Bowl Pick: UCLA/Illinois Under 47

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Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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