Cal Accepts Bid to Play in Poinsettia Bowl

BERKELEY, CA -- California, which will continue is school-record run of bowl appearances with its seventh consecutive postseason invitation, has accepted a bid to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl and will face Utah on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium. Kickoff will be at 5 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN.

Cal finished the regular season with an 8-4 overall record and tied for fifth place in the Pac-10 with a 5-4 mark. The Bears own a 5-1 bowl record during their current run under head coach Jeff Tedford, including last year's 24-17 win over Miami in the Emerald Bowl.

Overall, Cal will be making its 20th bowl appearance, with the Bears owning a 10-8-1 postseason record. Cal has twice played in bowl games in San Diego in recent years, having participated in the Holiday Bowl in 2004 and '06.

"We are looking forward to going to San Diego and playing in the Poinsettia Bowl," Tedford said. "We've had great experiences in bowl games in San Diego in the past. We've always been treated very well, and the hospitality has been outstanding. We are looking forward to playing a quality opponent from the Mountain West Conference."

The Bears are 2-0 vs. Mountain West Conference schools in bowls. Cal defeated BYU, 35-28, in the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl and downed Air Force, 42-36, in the 2007 Armed Forced Bowl behind an MVP performance from quarterback Kevin Riley.

Riley, now a junior, has started all 12 games this year and completed the regular season 189-of-346 for 2,636 yards and 17 touchdowns, with just six interceptions. His passing yardage is the ninth most in school history and he can move into fourth place on the Cal season list with a 200-yard effort in the bowl game.

Riley's favorite target has been sophomore Marvin Jones, who has 38 catches for 607 yards and six scores. Jones had his first career 100-yard game at Washington last Saturday, finishing with six receptions for 107 yards.

In the backfield, Cal runners have combined to rush for 2,107 yards, the seventh straight year the Bears have accumulated at least 2,000 yards after not hitting the mark the previous 11 seasons. Junior Jahvid Best, who has missed the last three games after being injured against Oregon State Nov. 7, continues to pace the team with 867 yards (96.3 ypg). His replacement in the starting lineup, sophomore Shane Vereen, has 830 yards (69.2 ypg) and has averaged 148.0 ypg since taking over the lead role.

Defensively, junior linebacker Mike Mohamed tops the Pac-10 with 105 total tackles (8.75 per game), in addition to having picked off a team-high three interceptions.

"The University of California is excited to be a participant in the Poinsettia Bowl for the first time," Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said. "The Golden Bears and all our fans are thrilled for the opportunity to continue our run of bowl-game success in a way that represents the excellence of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, as well as the loyalty of our program's supporters."

Utah enters the Poinsettia Bowl with a 9-3 overall record, finishing third in the MWC behind TCU and BYU with a 6-2 league mark. The Utes have the longest active bowl win streak in the nation, having claimed their last eight bowl games dating back to 1999. Last year, they upended Alabama, 31-17, in the Sugar Bowl to complete a 13-0 campaign and finish with a No. 2 national ranking. This year, the Utes are ranked 23rd in the Associated Press poll and 24th in the ESPN/USA Today ratings, and feature both a 1,000-yard rusher (Eddie Wide, 1,032 yards) and receiver (David Reed, 1,085 yards).

Cal owns a 4-2 series lead over Utah, but the teams haven't met since the Utes prevailed, 31-24, in Salt Lake City in 2003.

The Poinsettia Bowl is celebrating its fifth year this December. Navy defeated Colorado State, 51-30, in the inaugural game in 2005, and other results are: 2006 – TCU 37, Northern Illinois 7; 2007 – Utah 35, Navy 32; 2008 – TCU 17, Boise State 16.



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