Best scored from one yard out in the first quarter to open the scoring and later in the first scored on a 42-yard run to give the Bears a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter.
Miami bounced back in the second when Jacory Harris, making just his second start of the season, connected with fellow true freshman LaRon Byrd for a 9-yard touchdown strike. Harris, who finished the game 25-of-41 for 194 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and a lost fumble, later hit freshman Thearon Collier for a 6-yard score midway through the third quarter to tie the game.
A Giorgio Tavecchio field goal put Cal ahead 17-14 heading into the fourth quarter. A 22-yard field goal by Matt Bosher tied the game about midway through the fourth.
The Miami defense, which had played pretty well for the second, third, and most of the fourth quarter, got their offense the ball back with just over four minutes left. However, the momentum changed again when Harris was sacked and forced to fumble the ball inside his own five yard line. A couple plays later, Cal scored to make it a 24-17 game.
Miami was unable to make much happen on the game's final drive, which marked the third loss for the Canes in as many games to close out the season.
Running back Lee Chambers was a bright spot for the Canes, as he carried the ball nine times in the second half for 60 yards. Senior tight end Chris Zellner had a career game, finishing with eight receptions for 48 yards.
Miami's loss sent the Canes to 7-6 on the season and pushed the ACC's record in bowl games so far to 2-2 with Wake Forest and Florida State winning and North Carolina also losing.