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Holiday Bowl Pick

Cal vs. Texas

12/28/11

The Holiday Bowl features two 7-5 teams in the Texas Long Horns and California Bears. They have had two very different seasons as the Long Horns got off to a fast start before flaming down the lane, while Cal was shaky early but resilient down the lane. This Pac 12 vs. Big 12 matchup will be played in San Diego. Texas is a 3 point favorite at 5Dimes, down from the opening of 3 1/2, and holds 63.6% of the action.

The Texas offense has been a big question mark all season long. Garrett Gilbert started the year as the QB, but transferred after two miserable games. Since then David Ash and Case McCoy have split time with both producing mediocre results. RBs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron will be back for the bowl game after both missed time due to injury. This is a key development as the freshman duo has combined to gain 1,161 yards and 10 TDs despite missing a combined 8 games.

Texas’s defense has been a bright spot. They rank #1 in the Big 12 and are very stingy against the run.

Junior QB Zack Maynard leads California. The Bear’s QB has been very accurate in the last three games of the year. He’s only played bad twice all season against USC and UCLA. He put in a very solid game against Stanford on the road two back completing 20 of 29 for 280 yards and 2 TDs. Salt Lake, UT native Isi Sofele will get much of the offensive burden. He’s rushed for 1,270 yards and 9 TDs in 2011.

The Cal defense has been very, very strong against the run. The secondary isn’t shabby either.

Our score prediction model likes Texas by a score of 30-22. Both teams yards per points numbers are unimpressive and just about dead even. We'll rely on current form for picking a winner in this one. It has to be Cal. Cal went 5-1 down the stretch with wins over Arizona St and Utah while losing to Stanford by just 3. Texas went 1-4 down the stretch and couldn't keep up with Baylor. The difference in this game could be the more stable QB Zack Maynard.

Drastically different results against the one common opponent, UCLA as Texas handled them easy and Cal was hammered by them. But it's the current form of these two that makes our decision easier. Cal +3
 

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