Monday, December 07, 2009

Contra Costa Times: Poinsettia Bowl gives Cal football team shot at redemption

Jonathan Okanes

Cal may not be playing a team from a major conference in its bowl game this season, but based on how it performed in its 42-10 loss at Washington on Saturday, just having another game on the schedule will suffice.  The Bears on Sunday accepted an invitation to play Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23 at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium. The Utes finished third in the Mountain West Conference and are ranked No. 23 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll.  Saturday's unsightly loss dropped the Bears into a tie with USC for fifth place in the final Pac-10 standings and out of the Top 25. Had Cal won, it would have finished in a second-place tie and either faced Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl or Boston College in the Emerald Bowl.

A chance to face a program like Oklahoma would have been special for the Bears, but now players simply want another chance to take the field again so that Saturday won't be the lingering memory of the offseason.  "We're fortunate to be going to a bowl game and have another chance to end our season on a good note, not with a sour taste in our mouth," Cal running back Shane Vereen said. "It would have been a frustrating way to end the season."  Frankly, Cal is in no position to pick and choose a bowl opponent. The Bears finished with a respectable 8-4 record for the second straight season, but their four losses were by a combined score of 145-30.

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