Near the end of the first quarter of Wednesday night's Poinsettia Bowl, Cal sophomore running back Shane Vereen had six carries for 72 yards, including a touchdown scamper of 36 yards when he waltzed into the end zone with nary a Utah defender in sight. Vereen came into the Poinsettia Bowl averaging 144 yards per contest over his three-game stint as Cal's starting running back — he entered the lineup after Jahvid Best suffered a severe concussion Nov. 7 against Oregon State.
With Vereen off to such a fast start on Wednesday night, the Golden Bears' offense had the look of a unit that was primed to run roughshod over the Utes all night long. It looked as if Utah would have to make serious adjustments to its defensive scheme if it had any hope of holding Vereen below 200 yards rushing. Turns out, all the Utes really needed to do was just relax and play their game. "The first one that got out of the gate, the (36-yard) touchdown, we had a gap that we didn't fill," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We had a missed assignment. That long run was a blown assignment. From that point forward, we played sound football and tackled well.