The Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl on Wednesday will see the Texas Longhorns take on the California Golden Bears. The game is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. kickoff and will be televised nationally on ESPN. Currently the odds have Texas favored by 3.5 with the total being set at 47.5 points. Neither team went to a bowl game last season and each team had less than expected campaigns in 2011.
Free Analysis: Texas started the season at 4-0 and ranked in the Top 15 but struggled down the stretch, going just 3-5 in their final eight games. Neither of their quarterbacks have really excelled this season. David Ash and Case McCoy have shared time under center since the season's starter, Garrett Gilbert, decided to transfer. The Longhorns struggled to the finish line this season, losing three of their final four games. California had the opposite end to their season, winning three of their final four contests. Bears QB Zach Maynard and running back Isi Sofele helped the team steamroll to their finish line this season. The tailback averaged over 140 yards on the ground per game the final four weeks of the season and totaled 1,300 yards and nine TDs overall. Maynard has played better down the stretch as well, allowing Cal to win those three games. Their only loss in their final four games came at the hands of Stanford where Maynard connected for 20 of 29 for 280 yards, two touchdowns and no picks. The Texas defense will have to step up and play a big role tonight. The Horns finished 14th in total defense (315.3 yards allowed per game), 14th in pass efficiency and 11th in the country against the run (103.7 yards per contest). All good numbers, especially in a Big 12 conference that saw some pretty good offenses. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor all finished in the top three in total offense this season while Texas A&M (7th), Mizzou (12th) and Texas Tech (14th) were also in the Top 15 offensively. That's a damn good lineup of offenses. Cal is no slouch of a team, but offensively they aren't even close to being on the same level. I'm expecting the Longhorn defense to be able to get after Maynard with blitz packages and pressure up front. It's definitely going to be a challenge for the Cal QB the entire contest. On the other side of the ball, Texas can manage the game well and continue to stay balanced. McCoy threw four picks against Baylor in the regular season finale and that can't happen tonight. Tailback is also a position of note for the Horns, who are playing with true freshmen Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron in the backfield after injuries. Each of the youngsters has tallied five scores on the season and run for 450+ yards. This Holiday Bowl is known for a lot of scoring in recent years and I'd expect more points to be scored tonight, but I'm not sure just how many Cal is going to be able to put up. The Texas defense is the make or break point for me.
Free Pick: I'll take the Horns laying more than a field goal in this contest because as we've mentioned, I think the Texas defense is far superior to that of Cal's. Texas finished the season with a +4 turnover margin while California sunk below the even mark at -5. Cal averaged 37 points per game in the final seven games of the season but I really don't see a way where they get close to that number tonight. McCoy will have to avoid the turnovers tonight and get quality action from both freshmen in the backfield. If Texas can win the turnover battle and continue to play tough defense, they'll cover the number tonight in a pretty entertaining game. Neither team is really in the bowl they wanted to be in, but I think both are happy to be in a game with a quality opponent.
Free Picks: California vs Texas BettingNeither team went "bowling" last year and both teams have top 15 defenses plus other factors college football bettors need to know about California vs Texas (Wednesday, December 28, 2011) from Pregame.com - Including predictions from Bryan Leonard and analysis from host Vegas Runner.