Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 12/26/11

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl

Cal Golden Bears vs. No. 24 Texas Longhorns

 

December 28, 8:00 p.m. EST

Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego, CA)

Website: http://www.holidaybowl.com/

TV: ESPN

Line: Texas -3

Hey Texas fans, guess what? After being forced to spend the holidays with your family last year, your Longhorns are actually bowling in 2011, with a trip to San Diego to face Cal.

While the matchup itself the most spectacular proposition, the scenery in San Diego is, not to mention that history is indeed on the Longhorns side. The last time that Texas went to the Holiday Bowl was in 2007 and proved to be a springboard into one of the most successful runs in school history. Following the Longhorns victory over Arizona State that year, Texas went a combined 25-2 over the next two seasons, including a trip to the 2009 BCS title game.

Making This All Possible:

 

What is Bridgepoint Education you ask? Well, it’s an online, post-secondary education system actually. Think of it like the University of Phoenix without all the bells and whistles. Or something.

Education never was our strong suit.

Get To Know: Cal

Given that the Bears had one of the most disadvantageous playing situations in college football this year (Cal played their “home” games in San Francisco while Memorial Stadium in Berkley was under renovation this season), a 7-5 record really isn’t something to scoff at. The Bears won four of their final five games, with the one loss- at Stanford- by a field goal. Quite frankly, it may have been the best game the Bears played all year.

As for the actual on the field stuff, if there’s one storyline you need to know, it’s the pitch and catch combination of Zac Maynard and Keenan Allen. Besides the obvious (that they connected 89 times for over 1,200 yards) is the not so obvious: Maynard and Allen are half-brothers.

Get To Know: Texas

For the Longhorns, it was another less than glamorous season. After winning at least 10 games from 2001 to 2010, Texas fell off a cliff in 2010 (going 5-7) before barely bouncing back from mediocrity to 7-5 in 2011.

Most of the Longhorns uncertainty comes from the quarterback position, where Mack Brown and his staff were forced to shuffle guys in and out due to ineffectiveness and injury. Because of it, Texas finished the season ranked just 85th in passing offense and 53rd in scoring, numbers that are simply unacceptable when you recruit at the level the Longhorns do. On the other side of the ball Texas was effective under first year coordinator Manny Diaz, finishing 15th nationally in total defense.

You Should Know:

Want a Holiday Bowl historical fun fact? Well too bad, I’m going to give you one anyway.

In the history of the Holiday Bowl (dating back to 1979), guess which quarterback holds the highest completion percentage in any single game?

If you said Ty Detmer, Colt McCoy or Jim McMahon, you’d be wrong.

The answer is actually Mike Gundy, the former Oklahoma State signal-caller, who is now the head coach at the school. He completed 20 of 24 passes for an 83 percent completion percentage in the 1988 game.

If You’re Going:

Considering that San Diego may actually be this writer’s favorite city in the entire country, you might consider just skipping the game, and heading out on the town. Pacific Beach offers a beautiful setting, affordable food options, and the best “scenery” you’ll find anywhere. And I’m not talking about the palm trees.

By the way, the game day temperature for this one is expected to be 68 degrees. Did I mention how much I love San Diego by the way?

If You’re Watching At Home:

The Stone Brewing Company offers over 20 locally owned and brewed beers, with Stone IPA the popular choice of the locals.

Prediction:

For anyone who watched these two teams to close out the year, well, it’s hard to argue that these two aren’t going in different directions. As mentioned earlier, Cal has won four of their last five coming into this one, while Texas lost four of their last five. Their sole win was a squeaker against a self-imploding Texas A&M club.

Still, we’re going to take the Longhorns. So much of what Cal does revolves around Keenan Allen, and while Texas wasn’t great at stopping the pass this year, they’ll have a full month to prepare for the Cal attack.

It won’t be the most aesthetically pleasing win, but thanks to their defense, Texas will win a nail-biter.

Texas 23, Cal 17

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