The UCLA Bruins are the first team in the last decade to make it to a bowl game with a losing record. It helped a bit back dooring into the Pac-12 championship game due to the fact that USC was ineligible. Offensive coordinator Mike Johnson will replace Rick Neuheisel as the interim head coach for the bowl game. "I think it's going to be a good matchup," Johnson said. "It's two teams that have gone down similar paths." The Bruins have one of the worst offenses in the country, averaging just over 20 points a game. They continued to have quarterback issues throughout the season.
Not to be outdone by UCLA, the Illinois Fighting Illini are the first team in FBS history to start the season with six consecutive wins, only to follow it up with six consecutive losses. The Illini will also have an interim coach after firing Ron Zook after the conclusion of the regular season. "We're extremely excited," interim head coach Vic Koenning said. "It's an opportunity that, you know, we hoped very much to have a chance to play again. We have a lot of redemption to do." While Illinois did have a very disappointing season, they do have some exciting players to watch on offense in wide receiver A.J. Wright and quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.