UCLA answered one big question, hiring Chip Kelly as its new head coach.
The next questions: Will junior quarterback Josh Rosen, potentially the No. 1 pick in the draft, play in the game? As of Dec. 20, he was still in concussion protocol. If he does play, will he then leave for the NFL?
As the Bruins (6-6) were within a week of a Dec. 26 appearance against Kansas State in the Cactus Bowl in Phoenix, all that was up in the air.
Kelly won't coach in the bowl game interim Jedd Fisch will against the 7-5 Wildcats. Fisch, the offensive coordinator, took over for the regular-season-ending win over Cal.
"I love Coach Kelly," Rosen said on Dec. 20. "I know that he's a brilliant enough offensive football mind to where he can tailor his offense to the strengths of all 11 players, not just the quarterback."
UCLA endured plenty of turmoil and uncertainty this season, including the abrupt firing of head coach Jim Mora on Nov. 19, but the Bruins outlasted Cal for a 30-27 win on Nov. 24 to return to the postseason after a one-year layoff.
The Wildcats opened the 2017 season ranked in the Top 25, but fell below .500 in late October, losing 4-of-5 in one stretch. They rebounded winning 4-of-5 to close out the regular season, including a pair of victories over Oklahoma State and Iowa State by a combined six points.
The 20-19 win over Iowa State in the regular-season finale came on a final-play touchdown pass from quarterback Skylar Thompson to wide receiver Isaiah Zuber. Likewise, UCLA capped its regular season and won bowl eligibility with a last-second play, beating Cal on a J.J. Molson field goal as time expired.
Both UCLA and Kansas State now head into the Cactus Bowl on similar highs, after decidedly up-and-down seasons.
"UCLA is a very, very fine football team that went through some difficult times during the course of the season and a number of injuries, but I think they'll be healthy for the ball game," said Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder. "They're more than a formidable opponent."
Snyder last coached against UCLA in the 2015 Alamo Bowl, a game the Bruins won, 40-35.
Kelly's return to the Pac-12 Conference after winning three championships in four seasons as head coach of Oregon from 2009 through 2012 generated buzz, but Fisch said he is more concerned about capping the end of the Mora era with a win.
"We are playing this game as the 2017 Bruins, not the 2018 Bruins," Fisch said. "So all of our focus will be on what we have done, what we've built, what we've established, and what we've done schematically and what we've done defensively over the last six years."
Ending 2017 season with a win means scoring UCLA's first victory away from the Rose Bowl. Reflective of UCLA's tumultuous campaign, the Bruins finished 6-0, and 0-6 away from it. Kansas State comes into the Cactus Bowl with a three-game winning streak in games played outside of Manhattan, Kansas.