The University of California Golden Bears and University of Texas Longhorns accepted invitations to play in the 34th annual Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.
Both teams bring 7-5 records and no sizzle to San Diego. Texas did manage to beat four bowl teams in BYU, UCLA, Iowa State and Texas A&M. Cal's most-notable victories were over Utah and Arizona State.
It will be the fifth meting between the two schools and all four previous battles took place between 1959 and 1970 with Texas winning each one by at least 17 points. The Longhorns outscored the Golden Bears by a cumulative 134-18 with two shutouts. Only once has Cal managed more than 3 points and that was in the last meeting which Texas won by its largest margin, 56-15.
This will mark Cal’s third appearance in the Holiday Bowl, having split the first two. Most recently, the Bears defeated Texas A&M 45-10 in 2006. In the 2004 game they fell to Texas Tech, 45-31.
"We’re very excited about the opportunity to play in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl," said Tedford. "We look forward to playing a university with a great tradition such as Texas."
Cal’s offensive unit showed tremendous improvement in 2011, increasing its total production from 334 yards per game and a No. 90 national ranking in 2010 to 418.67 yards per game and a No. 37 national showing this season.
The Cal passing game led the way for the improvement, moving in the national rankings from No. 94 with 175.08 per game to No. 39 with a 251.50 average. Much of the damage on offense was done by Keenan Allen, a first-team All-Pac-12 choice that is second in the conference in receptions with 7.42 per game and 4th in receiving yards at 105.08 per game. He is also second on Cal’s all-time single-season lists in both receptions (89) and receiving yards (1,261), while adding a team-high six touchdown catches.
Cal featured the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year in Mychal Kendricks. The linebacker led a defense that paced the Pac-12 in pass defense with 209.1 yards per game to rank No. 41 in the nation. The team ranked 12th nationally in tackles for loss with 7.50 per game, while ranking 26th in total defense with 339.42 yards per game allowed. Kendricks is tied for third in the Pac-12 in tackles for loss per game with 1.08 and fourth in tackles with 8 per game, while leading the team in both with totals of a career-high 96 tackles and 13.0 tackles for loss. He also co-leads the squad with a pair of interceptions that he has returned for a team-high 62 yards, while adding 3.0 sacks (team-high -30 yards), two pass breakups and two fumble recoveries that he has returned for a team-high 33 yards.
Texas is making its fifth trip to the Holiday Bowl where they are 2-2, most recently beating Arizona State 52-34 in 2007.
Texas is the Big 12 leader in total defense, allowing 315.3 yards per game to rank 14th in the nation. The rushing defense has allowed only 103.7 yards per game to rank 11th. The Longhorns also rank second in the Big 12 and 14th nationally in pass efficiency rating defense. Texas is led by a trio of senior starters in linebackers Emmanuel Acho (120 tackles/18 TFL) and Keenan Robinson (92 tackles/8 TFL) along with safety Blake Gideon (77 tackles/two interceptions).
Texas has posted its defensive success despite facing three (Baylor 2nd; Oklahoma State, 3rd; Oklahoma, 4th) of the nation's top four (and six of the top 15 – Texas A&M, 7th; Missouri, 12th; Texas Tech, 14th) ranked teams in total offense.
The Longhorns' offense, which ranks just 44th nationally, is led by the nation's No. 19 ground attack. The Longhorns manage 404 yards of offense and nearly 30 points per game. Although limited with injuries over the last few weeks, true freshman running backs Malcolm Brown (707 yards and 5 TD's) and Joe Bergeron (454 yards and 5 TD's) are expected back at full speed for the Holiday Bowl. They combined to produce 1,161 yards, 10 TD's and four 100-yard rushing games in their first season at Texas.
With a young QB duo of sophomore Case McCoy and true freshman David Ash taking the snaps, the Longhorns passing attack has been led by another true freshman, Jaxon Shipley. Shipley missed three games with a knee injury but leads the team with 40 catches for 593 yards and three TD's and is coming off of a four-catches for 121 yards at Baylor.
Texas head coach Mack Brown said, "Jeff Tedford is a great friend who is a tremendous football coach. He's the winningest coach in Cal history, so he's had the Bears playing at a consistently high level for a long time, and we look forward to playing them."
The game kicks off at 8 p.m. EST on Wednesday, December 28th at Qualcomm Stadium and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
The Congrove Computer Rankings favor Texas by 5.30 points.