Tuesday, December 22, 2009

LA Times: Having missed out on Roses, Cal faces a thorn in Pac-10's side

The Bears' erratic season ends Wednesday night at the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. Their opponent will be Utah, which has had a lot of success lately against Pacific 10 Conference teams.

Followers of Pacific 10 Conference football hold these truths to be self-evident:

USC will go to a bowl every year under Pete Carroll.

Stanford's Jim Harbaugh will say or do something to irk one of his coaching colleagues.

And Utah will be a cactus-sized thorn in the side.

The Utes are 6-3 against Pac-10 teams since the start of the 2003 season, with two of the victories coming against ranked opponents.

No. 23 Utah (9-3) hopes to pull rank for a change Wednesday evening at Qualcomm Stadium against California (8-4) in the Poinsettia Bowl. The Bears will play without star tailback Jahvid Best, who continues to be held out because of the concussion he suffered last month against Oregon State.

Back in August, Cal was hoping for a trip to Pasadena instead of San Diego. Then the season started, and the Bears looked alternately horrid in losses to USC and Oregon and unstoppable in victories over Washington State and UCLA. The inconsistency continued to the end of the regular season -- an upset of Stanford in the Big Game, followed by a 42-10 loss to Washington.

"Some weeks they really light it up and play exceptionally well and other weeks they're not as consistent," Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham said.

The Utes have been surprisingly consistent despite some key personnel losses. After finishing 13-0 last season with a victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, Utah lost senior quarterback Brian Johnson, a few other players who departed early for the NFL and both coordinators. Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig took the same post at Cal.

Link to rest of article.

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