Josh Rosen’s status for the Cactus Bowl against Kansas State was the primary storyline for UCLA heading into Tuesday night’s game, but while the Bruins star quarterback was at midfield for the ceremonial coin toss to represent his team, he did so with sweats under his uniform as an inactive member of the roster.
Rosen did not play, officially because he had not been cleared after suffering a concussion. That “100 percent medical” decision, per Sports Illustrated, did not stop him from addressing the potential of sitting out for the bowl game, like many other players with similar NFL Draft hopes have done in the past.
“I think players are just starting to realize they have a lot of power and they don’t ned to be exploited when it’s to their detriment,” Rosen said. “It’s just every single situation is unique, and I don’t think you can lump them all together.”
But while Rosen’s status was the biggest storyline heading into the game, a less popular one ended up dominating as Kansas State cruised to a 35-17 win.
Kansas State rolled up 344 rushing yards, becoming the fifth opponent to top 300 rushing yards against UCLA this season. The Bruins entered the game as one of the worst FBS rushing defenses in the country and no other Power Five program has more than three games allowing 300+ rushing yards so far in 2017. Rosen’s absence hurt UCLA and certainly played a role in its struggles on third down and general offensive efficiency, but this was still a game that the Bruins led 17-7 at halftime.
Quarterback Alex Delton led the way for Kansas State with 158 rushing yards and four total touchdowns (three rushing, one passing), while Alex Barnes added 117 yards and another score on the ground. A few explosive plays helped Kansas State get the lead, but it was a grinding 15-play, 98-yard drive that ate up more than eight minutes of game time that put the game away for the Wildcats.
While UCLA moves on from the bowl loss with high hopes about the Chip Kelly era, less is certain regarding the future of Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, who addressed retirement rumors during media availability leading up to the game only to deny any set decisions as he focused on the next step for the Wildcats.
At 78 years old, Snyder has requested more time for a “thorough” conversation with his family and the Kansas State administration before making what he has referred to as the “big decision.” Snyder already retired once, in 2005, only to return in 2008 and lead Kansas State back into the spotlight with eight straight bowl appearances and three Fiesta Bowl bids.
As for Rosen, the expectation is that the UCLA quarterback will take his talents to the NFL as one of the top prospects in the draft, though he, like Snyder, has yet to make an official announcement regarding his future.