Breaking down the Emerald Bowl

December, 26, 2008
12/26/08
10:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

In keeping with the mini bowl previews I've been doing, here's a closer look at the Emerald Bowl, starting with three reasons why Miami will win:

1. Cal's offensive line. The Golden Bears are down three starters and a reserve from its preseason depth chart, and junior college transfer Donovan Edwards, who's not physically there yet, has been exploited at times at tackle.

2. Cal's issues at quarterback. It looks like Nate Longshore will start in place of Kevin Riley. The Golden Bears broke in an entirely new group of receivers from 2007, and they never really got in sync. The passing game has been somewhat of a weakness this season.

3. Miami's ability to pressure quarterbacks. Although they are the worst team in the FBS when it comes to interceptions (they only have four this season), the Canes rank 20th nationally in tackles for loss and are tied for 25th with 30 sacks this season. Miami has the No. 13 pass defense in the country.

Here are three reasons why they won't win:

1. Location, location, location. Miami had to travel about 3,000 miles to play this game, while Cal had to go about six and a half. Cal is undefeated at home this season.

2. Running back Jahvid Best. He ranks fifth nationally in rushing, averaging 126.7 yards per game. He was the Pac-10's leading rusher with 1,394 yards and 13 touchdowns during the regular season. Best also ranked second in the conference in scoring with 84 points and led the Pac-10 with 183.5 all-purpose yards per game.

3. Cal's defense. The Golden Bears' defense was second in the Pac-10 in scoring defense, behind only USC with an average of 20.2 points. Cal ranks seventh nationally in turnover margin (+1.17) having forced 32 turnovers which includes 23 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. Cal is also tied for 13th nationally in sacks while overall the Golden Bears rank 24th in total defense and 27th in scoring defense. They'll be pressuring true freshman quarterback Jacory Harris, who is making just his second career start, all game.

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ACC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
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Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
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Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
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