Present Iteration: Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
Past Iterations: Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, Holiday Bowl.
Toasting Town: San Diego, California
Combatants: California (7-5) vs. Texas (7-5)
Holiday Equivalent: Encounter with Distant Cousins
Mack Brown and Jeff Tedford have squared off once before in 2004, with Brown successfully lobbying to get 10-1 Texas into the Rose Bowl ahead of 10-1 California. The coaches claim there are no hard feelings, and it’s hard not to believe them considering their more immediate concerns. Both won five games in 2010. A jump to eight in 2011 would mark significant improvement and optimism for 2012. A loss would stoke either Tedford’s hot seat or Mack Brown’s retirement speculation.
California Golden Bears [SRS 30]
Best Wins: Arizona State (25), Utah (40), Washington State (74)
Losses: at Oregon (4), at Stanford (5), USC (10), at Washington (49), at UCLA (64)
Famous Alum: Michelle Tafoya
The Bears did not have a great season, but improved greatly their last four games. Three of the four were wins. The fourth was a three-point loss to Stanford. The key was committing to the running game behind Isi Sofele, who gained 569 yards on 88 carries. The decreased workload benefitted Zach Maynard who completed 68 percent of his passes and threw five touchdowns to just one interception. Cal will need similar efforts from both, against a tough Texas defense.
Texas Longhorns [SRS 21]
Best Wins: Texas A&M (11), BYU (42), Iowa State (48)
Losses: Oklahoma St. (2), Oklahoma (6), Baylor (14), Missouri (19), Kansas State (22)
Famous Alum: Owen Wilson
A double coordinator change, flirtations with the Pac 12, some sort of network deal. Mack and Deloss had a fairly uneventful 2011. Staff changes addressed 2010’s complacency, but failed to address the starting quarterback spot. Favorite five-star recruit Garrett Gilbert was not the answer. Neither David Ash nor Case McCoy showed enough to be considered one either. This, combined with a slew of running back injuries, often left the offense almost entirely ineffective. Fortunately, they were more than adept at the game’s other facets, ranking in the FEI top ten for defense and special teams.
For Recreational Purposes: Texas (-3.5)
[Photo via Getty]