In the 21/2 weeks leading up to Utah's battle with California in the 2009 Poinsettia Bowl, the most talked-about participant probably won't be one of the players. Hello, Andy Ludwig. As soon as the Utes and Golden Bears accepted invitations Sunday night to play in the Poinsettia Bowl, Ludwig, Cal's offensive coordinator, became one of the major pre-kickoff storylines. A year ago, Ludwig was Utah's offensive coordinator. He left after the Utes capped an unbeaten season in the Sugar Bowl, took a job at Kansas State but almost immediately moved on to California. A year after deciding to leave Utah, Ludwig's job will be solving the Utes' defense in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23.
"We have a good opponent in Cal," Beadles said, "and it will be nice for the media to be able to play up the Ludwig ties." Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said, "He knows our defensive scheme and we are well-versed in his offense. So it will be kind of a sidebar to the game." Not that the Utes hold any grudges. "He's very well-respected throughout the team," Beadles said. "... It will be fun. He's a good guy and he's a good coach. He was here most of my career and it will be good to see him again." Utah linebacker Stevenson Sylvester's job will be slowing Ludwig's offense, which scored at least 34 points in six of Cal's 12 games. "It will be a lot of fun," Sylvester said. "Andy Ludwig is a great friend of ours. ... He has a lot of packages and a great imagination for the offensive side of the ball. So we have to be prepared for all that." Utah last played in the Poinsettia Bowl in 2007, when it defeated Navy, 35-32.
This year's trip was assured when Mountain West Conference champion TCU earned an invitation to the Fiesta Bowl, and the Las Vegas Bowl once again selected BYU. "We're so pleased we will be welcoming these two terrific teams and their fans to San Diego," said Poinsettia Bowl president Barbara Warden. "I think it's safe to say that we're in for one heck of a game." For Utah freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn, the game will be a homecoming. Just a year ago, he was a highly decorated all-stater while playing for Oceanside (Calif.) High School.
"It will definitely be cool, going home," Wynn said. "I have a lot of people there tell me they're going to show up for the game." According to Wynn, he is 2-0 as a starting quarterback in games at Qualcomm Stadium. "I had one of my best games there," Wynn recalled. "My junior year, I started 6-for-6 or 7-for-7 and finished with something like 250 yards and a couple of touchdowns." Cal takes an 8-4 record into the Poinsettia Bowl. The Bears, making their school-record seventh straight bowl appearance, finished an up-and-down season with a 42-10 loss at Washington on Saturday. "I told the players that it's fortunate that we're getting to play again because you don't want to end the season on that note," coach Jeff Tedford said. "We're looking forward to it. We're anxious for it." Utah ended its season with a 9-3 record after a 26-23 overtime loss to BYU on Nov. 28. Said Wynn: "I'm keeping it in the back of my mind, so when I get on the field again I'll remember I don't want that taste in my mouth again."