Football: Pac-12 falls to 1-4 in bowls

Here’s how you want to celebrate New Year’s Eve: Bring together two horrible teams whose coaches already have been fired and let them go at it in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park:

   — Illinois 20, UCLA 14: The Illini (7-6) snapped a six-game losing streak spanning 12 weeks of real time by beating the Bruins (6-8) who got an exemption allowing them to play in a bowl game with a losing record. UCLA dropped its third straight game, the pprevious two by a 99-31 margin. Here’s more, if you want it.


Football: Pac-12 is 0-3 in bowls, but . . .

If you’re gonna lose a bowl game, this is the way to do it.

Check out the comic-book stats assembled in Baylor’s 67-56 instant-classic victory over Washington in the Alamo Bowl.

Fans who sat through Wednesday’s Holiday Bowl between Cal and Texas had to be envious. Baylor outscored UW 29-14 in the third quarter alone — more points than were generated all night in San Diego.


Football: Holiday Bowl game thread

FINAL SCORE: Texas 21, Cal 10. The Bears finish 7-6 after a 4-4 start. Texas, which had dropped three of its previous four games, winds up 8-5. There were lots of telling statistics in the game, but none moreso than the 5-0 turnover margin. Cal had coughed up just two turnovers in its previous four games.

The Bears finished with 195 total yards, their season low. The running game, which opened things up nicely for Maynard in recent weeks, netted seven yards (thanks partly to six sacks). Sofele, who averaged 143 yards the previous four games, had 20 carries for 52 yards.

Wideouts Allen (9 catches for 82 yards) and Jones (8-88) accounted for 170 of the Bears’ 195 yards. Jones finished his career with a catch in 38 consecutive games. Maynard was 19 for 33 for 188 yards, with three turnovers (2 fumbles, 1 INT). But he was harassed all night.

14:57 4th Q: Cody Johnson, a 5-foot-11, 252-pound running back, powered in from the 4 on the first play of the quarter and Texas leads 21-10. Four turnovers may be too much to overcome.

END OF THIRD QTR: The Bears just squandered a great chance. They forced a Texas punt from the end zone and took possession at the 27 after a 16-yard return by Marvin Jones. But Anthony Miller was flagged for a personal foul on a second-down play, pushing the ball back to the 44, and Maynard fumbled after being sacked. Goodwin raced 37 yards to the 7 and Cody Johnson powered to the 4 before the quarter ended. Texas leads 14-10.

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Football: Game-day reading

Here’s my story from this morning’s edition on how Cal junior running back Isi Sofele feels a responsibility to help carry the Bears against a stout Texas defense.

From the San Diego Union-Tribune, here are Five Things to Watch in the Holiday Bowl.

Elsewhere . . .

– The Pac-12 and Big Ten are moving to strengthen their historic alliance, including plans for annual preseason matchups of every team from both conferences in games that would be played at the Rose Bowl, or perhaps Soldier Field, Wrigley Field or even Yankee Stadium. Here is the Pac-12′s news release.

– And here’s a real surprise: Oregon unveils new Nike uniforms for its Rose Bowl matchup vs. Wisconsin. It’s called the Nike Pro Combat system of dress technology. Are they cool or have you had enough of the Ducks’ marketing excess?




Football: Bears, Longhorns ready to play

The two coaches who will lead Cal and Texas into Wednesday’s Holiday Bowl sat alongside one another at a morning press conference, and Mack Brown of the Longhorns opened with a humorous but frank monologue.

“It’s really unique in this press conference that you’d sit next to the opposing coach and everybody says, `What do you think of their quarterback?’

`He’s great.’

`What about their receivers?’

`They’re really good.’

“I can’t answer things about the other team,” Brown said. “I think it’s the only time we’ve ever done this. Most coaches aren’t speaking the day before a game to each other, much less braggin on each other when we get up here.”

So, with that bit of honesty as a backdrop, I can tell you both coaches were polite, cooperative and detailed in their answers during a 37-minute podium interview session, then took a few more questions in smaller groups afterward.

But there wasn’t any dirt thrown around on the eve of kickoff.

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Football: Navy’s USS Boxer hosts Cal, Texas; Recruiting asst. Kevin Parker honored by players

Two days from clashing in the Holiday Bowl, the teams and staff from Cal and Texas enjoyed lunch Monday on the USS Boxer, an 844-foot long, 40,500 ton Navy ship that accomodates more than 3,100 crew and troops.

The Wasp-class large-deck multi-purpose amphibious assault ship, basically an aircraft carrier for helicopters, had plenty of room for the several hundred guests that included both team parties, as well as military dignataries and sailors.

The teams were escorted up the gangplank onto the ship, where they were greeted by officers and sailors. Both schools’ bands performed on Pier 13 to kick off the festivities.

The luncheon featured a series of speeches by blazer-wearing bowl hosts and their various sponsors, but the highlight was the presentation of the Admiral Grant Sharp Trophy, given to member of each program for unselfish commitment, ability to motivate and display of teamwork with little acclaim.

Players voted on the award and the Bears honored recruiting assistant Kevin Parker, an Oakland native, who serves as big brother and off-field mentor to Cal players.

“Very emotional. It means the world to mean,” Parker said a few minutes later. “I’m at the bottom of the totem pole, I think, at Cal. This shows me that everything I do is appreciated. My mom always told me your actions speak for themselves.”

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Football: Cal’s team flight to San Diego delayed one hour, arrives safely

Cal’s team charter flight from Oakland to San Diego this morning was delayed for one hour after the captain announced an engine check light went on just before takeoff.

The plane remained on the tarmac for a few minutes,then moved off the runway so the maintenance crew could perform its checks. After the delay, the team arrived safely in San Diego at about 12:30 p.m.

The flight carried coaches, including head coach Jeff Tedford, staff members and about 35 players. The rest of the players were joining the team in San Diego after a pre-Christmas holiday break.

Cal (7-5) plays Texas (7-5) on Wednesday in the Holiday Bowl.


Football: Bears off until Friday

Cal and Texas will let their football players rest and study for a few days before preparation begins in earnest for their Dec. 28 clash at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.

The Bears resume practice Friday, and will hold seven workouts in Berkeley through Dec. 19, before giving players several days off for the Christmas holiday. The teams will arrive in San Diego on Dec. 23.

Both teams are back in a bowl game after a rare miss last season. Cal was 5-7 a year ago and was left out of the postseason for the first time since 2002, coach Jeff Tedford’s debut season. Texas is playing in its 13th bowl in 14 seasons under coach Mack Brown a year after also going 5-7 in 2010.

Bruce Binkowski, the Holiday Bowl’s executive director, called Cal “a team on the rise” and described the youthful Longhorns as “a team of the future.”

“If Texas is available, how do you not take the Longhorns?” Binkowski said. “They always get great fan support. They’re an institution in college football. We’re just thrilled to have a team of their stature, and (also) Mack Brown.”

Texas has won all four previous matchups with the Bears, although they met most recently in 1970. Texas has outscored Cal by a combined margin of 134-18 with a pair of shutouts.

Cal and Texas both bring 7-5 records to San Diego, but the Bears have won three of four and the Longhorns have lost three of four.