Emerald Bowl: California (8-4) vs. Miami (7-5)

December, 27, 2008
12/27/08
10:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

The Emerald Bowl functions as basically a home game for California while Miami couldn't travel much farther and stay inside the continental United States.

So let's look at the three Ws for the Pac-10's second game of the bowl season.

Who to watch: Cal running back Jahvid Best

Best won the Pac-10 rushing title with a dominant 311 yards rushing -- in 2 1/2 quarters -- in the season-finale vs. Washington. Sure, the Huskies defense is terrible, but ... gosh, 311 yards! Moreover, Miami's defense has given up an average of 345.5 yards rushing over its final two games. If Best posts a big day -- like by, say, getting his eighth run of 60 or more yards this season -- he could position himself as a budding 2009 Heisman Trophy candidate.

What to watch: Miami quarterback Jacory Harris vs. the Cal secondary

While Harris is a true freshman making only his second start of the season, many folks believe he is a better player than suspended starter Robert Marve. Harris has completed 61 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions, while Marve completed 55 percent with nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Cal's defense, however, has a knack for pressuring quarterbacks into making mistakes -- see 33 sacks and 23 interceptions, which is tied for third in the nation. Moreover, Harris will be playing under conditions that basically equate to a road game. Will he keep his poise?

Why to watch: It's a showdown between BCS conferences, so regional pride is on the line. Best, perhaps the most dangerous, big-play running back in the nation, is hard to take your eyes off. Folks in Miami believe their young team has future All-Americans on both sides of the ball. And both teams have visions of better things in 2009, so both figure to be motivated to play well in order to amp up the momentum heading into the offseason.

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PAC-12 SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 9/4
Friday, 9/5
Saturday, 9/6