The Holiday Bowl has been a graveyard for disappointed teams from both the Big 12 and the Pac 10 for years, and now Cal and Texas get to settle their differences in San Diego.
Texas. Cal. Holiday Bowl. It’s tough to read those four words without thinking of the 2004 season, when Texas and Cal both finished with 1 loss apiece (to unbeaten Oklahoma/USC) and it was Texas chosen by the narrowest of margins to play in the BCS. (Keep in mind that these kids were in middle school back in 2004…)
Vince Young and the Horns went on to win one of the best Rose Bowls ever played (until, you know, their win the following year) while Aaron Rodgers and Cal were embarassed by Mike Leach’s Red Raiders in… the Holiday Bowl!
This year, both teams limp into this game at 7-5 with 4-5 records in their respective conferences. Texas has struggled mightily down the stretch, winning just one of their last 4 games, while Cal finished with a boom (3-1) with only a narrow loss to highly-ranked Stanford. But that may be a matter of schedule ordering – neither team won a game in conference against a team with more than 6 wins.Both teams faced UCLA, with Texas winning 49-20 and Cal losing 31-14.
Cal’s attack is based around RB Isi Sofele (almost 20 carries per game, 106 ypg) and WR Keenan Allen (7.5 catches per game, 105 ypg). QB Zach Maynard had a decent but not great season, compiling a passer rating of 129.4 while throwing 17 TD to 11 INT.
Texas’s attack is based around multiple RBs as the Longhorns actually rush for more ypg (210) than they pass for (193). However, Malcolm Brown and Joe
Bergeron were banged up at the end of the season, and Fozzy Whittaker is definitely out. Case McCoy and David Ash are both expected to play some at QB, but McCoy seems to have played a little better overall and boosted his status with the game-winning drive at A&M.
Texas seems to have a better defense, and the teams’ games against common opponent UCLA is also a little indication in UT’s favor.