It’s been seven years since Texas leapfrogged Cal in the final BCS poll of 2004 and went to the Rose Bowl, while Aaron Rodgers and the Golden Bears were relegated to the Holiday Bowl, where they lost to Texas Tech.
This will be the fifth meeting between the two schools, with Texas winning all previous four, the last win coming in 1970. Sitting at 4-4, Cal’s postseason hopes were fading, but wins in three of its final four games earned the Bears their third Holiday Bowl berth. True to head coach Jeff Tedford’s form, once again Cal has a solid quarterback in Zach Maynard and a top-flight running back in Isi Sofele.
Maynard has thrown for 2,802 yards with 17 TDs and 11 INTs while Sofele has run for 1266 yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season, and averaged 141.3 ypg over the final four contests. In the loss to Stanford, Maynard went 20-of-29 for 280 yards with two touchdowns and the next week was 20-of-27 for 241 yards with one passing TD while running in another score in a 47-38 victory over Arizona State. California has the 36th-ranked rush defense, allowing 130.33 yards per game and 16 rush TDs this season and LB Mychal Kendricks and end Trevor Guyton lead a Bears defense that held three Pac-12 opponents to 10 or fewer points.
After having its 12-year streak of bowl appearances snapped in 2010, Texas returns to postseason play after another mediocre season but with enough wins to qualify for a bowl. Rumors Mack Brown would be forced to resign after the season began to circulate, but were vehemently denied by Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds. Brown has coached the Longhorns since 1998 with a record of 140-39, a BCS National Title in 2005 and a second National Championship played in 2009, as well as coaching a Heisman Trophy winner (Ricky Williams) and several finalists.
Texas has struggled with their passing game, ranked 85th in the FBS having more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (14). Case McCoy, younger brother of Colt who also played at UT and owned the record of most wins by a QB until Kellen Moore of Boise State broke the mark this year, threw for 1034 yards, seven touchdowns and four picks, while David Ash passed for 937 yards, three scores and eight interceptions.
Malcolm Brown has anchored the 19th ranked rushing offense, running for 707 yards and five TDs despite being sidelined with turf toe for three games late in the season. Texas ranks 14th in the nation and first in the Big 12 in total defense allowing 315.3 yards per game and are 11th in the country against the run, giving up 103.7 yards per contest. The Longhorns are in the top 50th in the country in scoring defense (23.3 ppg) and passing defense (211.7 ypg). In the regular season finale, Texas struggled defensively against Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and the Baylor Bears, as Griffin passed for 320 yards and two touchdowns while running for two more scores, and the Longhorns gave up 191 yards and four scores on the ground and 511yards overall.
Dory LeBlanc, covers Gator sports for Gators First and BourbonMeyer.com. Not just a college sports enthusiast, Dory is also a fan of NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. Born outside Philly, she moved to Tampa, and now resides in Illinois, giving her a broad perspective on the sporting world. You can follow Dory on twitter @DoryLeBlanc