3. A tale of two programs
Bowl games are often so fascinating because of how different the state of the two competing programs is. It's not unusual to see matchups between a blue blood coming off a disappointing year and a smaller brand with all the momentum in the world. That isn't exactly the case in this game, but it's an intriguing matchup nonetheless.
UCLA, on one hand, was a letdown in 2023. Dante Moore was disappointing and a really good roster was wasted by poor offensive line play and questionable coaching.
It was the kind of season for UCLA that had fans upset when, after rumors that he could be let go, Chip Kelly was retained.
Boise State, meanwhile, is rolling towards its future. After the firing of Andy Avalos, interim head coach Spencer Danielson led the Broncos to three straight wins to finish the regular season, and capped it off with a Mountain West championship. In the easiest move an athletic director has ever had to make, Jeremiah Dickey removed Danielson's interim tag.
At the time of writing, UCLA is the favorite here, but this game has "emotional mismatch" written all over it. The Bruins have the better roster and they're the bigger brand, but this is a letdown for them. They weren't going to be a playoff team, but 9 or 10 wins was the target that they fell significantly short of.
For Boise, this game is a chance to cap off a resilient season. This is a chance to beat a bigger brand, something this program has plenty of experience in. This is a chance to make a statement.
There's a debate every year about whether or not bowl games really matter, This one may not for UCLA, but it certainly does for Boise State. That's a recipe for an upset.