Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Holiday Bowl preview: Texas vs. California
By David Ubben
The Big 12's 1-0 in bowl games so far, and it's time for another 7-5 team to strap pads on and put the league's reputation on the line.
Texas takes on Cal out in San Diego in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET. Let's take a look at what to expect.
WHO TO WATCH: Texas LB Emmanuel Acho. The Longhorns' top talents are all on defense and Acho headlines the group. The senior leader closed the season on a tear, notching at least 12 tackles in four consecutive games before the loss to Baylor. Acho is everywhere on the field for the Longhorns, and led the team with 109 stops.
WHAT TO WATCH: Texas' quarterbacks. You never quite know who's going to be there. The quarterbacks have been shuffled in and out all year. Case McCoy and David Ash replaced Garrett Gilbert in the second game and neither has grabbed hold of the starting job since. McCoy doesn't quite have the big arm you'd like in a Big 12 quarterback, and Ash has been plagued by poor decision-making. McCoy hadn't thrown an interception all season, but in the finale against Baylor, he threw four. He had three touchdowns, too, but Texas lost convincingly and Baylor's Robert Griffin III won the Heisman at the Longhorns' expense. There's no telling who'll be under center for most of the Holiday Bowl. I'll guess Ash for now.
WHY TO WATCH: We haven't had a chance to see full-strength Texas in a long while. Jaxon Shipley is the team's top receiver, but he's been hampered by a knee injury and missed three games in the middle of the season before returning. He's finally back to 100 percent. Running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron have been slowed by injuries, too. They'll be back. Seven wins was about right for this team, but just about everyone will be back next year, and we'll get some idea of how many to expect in 2012 from the offense's performance in the finale.
PREDICTION: No. 24 Texas 20, California 17 -- The Longhorns suffocate another offense in this one, quieting Keenan Allen and Zach Maynard. Texas has seen better offenses and played well. They take care of business out in San Diego to notch a Holiday Bowl win. A healthy backfield of Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron get back down to business and build toward a big sophomore year.