Sun Bowl won't lack offense with NU, UCLA

Updated: December 5, 2005, 2:03 AM ET
Associated Press

EL PASO, Texas -- UCLA and Northwestern, who possess two of the country's most entertaining offenses, were selected Sunday to play in the Vitalis Sun Bowl on Dec. 30.

"It will be an offensive explosion," Sun Bowl Association president Wayne Thornton said.

No. 17 UCLA (9-2) ranks seventh in the country in scoring with a 38.1-point average. The Bruins are averaging 429 yards in total offense. Led by quarterback Brett Basanez, Northwestern (7-4) is eighth nationally in total offense, averaging 492.7 yards.

UCLA, which played in the 1991 and 2000 Sun Bowls, will be making its 27th bowl appearance. The Bruins beat Illinois 6-3 in the 1991 Sun Bowl and lost to Wisconsin 21-20 in the 2000 game.

"Our team has worked hard to earn its record of 9-2, and a trip to the Sun Bowl is a great way to cap this successful season," UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said.

The Bruins won their first eight games and were ranked among the nation's top teams before losing at Arizona 52-14 on Nov. 5. They beat Arizona State 45-35 the following weekend, but lost to top-ranked USC 66-19 to complete the regular season.

UCLA is 21-15 in Dorrell's three years as their coach. They have lost bowl games following each of the past two seasons.

Northwestern, a member of the Big Ten, will be playing in its first Sun Bowl and just its sixth bowl game, five of them in the last decade.

"I'm excited for our team, especially our group of seniors," Northwestern coach Randy Walker said. "We're also excited to play one of the top Pac-10 teams in UCLA."

Northwestern gained its bowl berth by winning seven games and finishing in a four-way tie for third place (5-3) in the Big Ten with Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press