Kansas State player of the game: Alex Delton. The sophomore quarterback had become an afterthought in the minds of some K-State fans after Skylar Thompson led the Wildcats to late victories over Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Iowa State, but he took center stage at the Cactus Bowl. Delton took advantage of a dream matchup against a leaky run defense by rushing for 158 yards and three touchdowns. K-State will have a fascinating QB competition in store next season.
UCLA player of the game: Jordan Lasley. The Bruins receiver caught eight passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. He consistently created problems for the Wildcats and helped UCLA take a 17-7 lead at halftime.
Key moment of the game: Denzel Goolsby zipped into the backfield and stripped the ball away from UCLA running back Bo Olorunfunmi. Bill Snyder called it the “biggest play in the ballgame,” and for good reason. It was on the first play of a UCLA drive with the Bruins leading 17-14. The Wildcats scored immediately after the turnover and seized control of the game.
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Offense: B+. Not sure why the Wildcats came out throwing against the Bruins and their woeful run defense, but offensive coordinator Dana Dimel changed course in enough time for K-State to rush for a season-high 364 yards behind Alex Delton and Alex Barnes. Now we wait to see how much the offense changes next season with a new coordinator.
Defense: B+. Give Tom Hayes and the Wildcats lots of credit on defense. The first half was ugly, but they made key adjustments and played inspired football from then on. UCLA raced to a 17-7 lead and did nothing the rest of the way. Devon Modster looked like a backup quarterback after halftime.
Special Teams: C. Matthew McCrane didn’t attempt any field goals, and K-State returners failed to break free for big yardage. This unit didn’t have much of an impact.
Coaching: B. The Wildcats fought back for several come-from-behind victories this season, including Tuesday at the Cactus Bowl, but there was no reason for them to fall behind so badly against an opponent like UCLA, playing without a permanent coach and down its star quarterback. Starting will be a point of emphasis for Bill Snyder and his staff next season.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett