Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Wise lifts UC Irvine in 74-61 win over Pepperdine
Monday, December 21, 2009
(12-21) 21:36 PST Irvine, Calif. (AP) --

Eric Wise scored 12 consecutive UC Irvine points late in Monday night's game to boost the Anteaters to a 74-61 victory over Pepperdine. Wise punctuated his game-high 23 points with four baskets and four free throws that turned a 53-50 lead into a 65-59 edge with 2:20 to play.
The Anteaters (6-5) then ran off nine unanswered points before Mychel Thompson scored at the buzzer for the Waves (3-10). Michael Hunter scored 16 and Darren Moore 14 for UC Irvine. Thompson led Pepperdine with 16, with Dane Suttle Jr. adding 15 and Lorne Jackson 13.

Pepperdine led 40-37 at halftime and went ahead 45-37 on Taylor Darby's basket at 18:18 of the second half. But soon Wise took over. He made 8 of 16 shots and 7 of 8 free throws, tying his season high.The Anteaters snapped a two-game losing streak. Pepperdine sustained its seventh consecutive loss.
© 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.

Recap: UC Irvine vs. Pepperdine
By Sports Network The Sports Network
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009

Eric Wise scored 23 points to power the UC Irvine Anteaters to a 74-61 win over the Pepperdine Waves in a non-league clash. Michael Hunter added 16 points for UC Irvine (6-5), which got 14 points from Darren Moore. Mychel Thompson scored 16 points in the loss for Pepperdine (3-10). The Waves also got 15 points from Dan Suttle Jr. and 13 points from Lorne Jackson.

Pepperdine owned a 40-37 lead at intermission despite trailing 19-14 early on.
The Waves stretched their lead to eight points early in the second half, but the Anteaters scored 15 of the game's final 17 points to claim the win. UC Irvine finished the game with only nine turnovers while forcing 21 giveaways.

UCI takes care of ball, Pepperdine
2009-12-21 21:43:52
Irvine - UC Irvine's matched a season-low with nine turnovers and closed the game on a 13-2 spurt to defeat Pepperdine, 74-61, in a nonconference game Monday night at Bren Center.
Eric Wise poured in a game-high 23 points to go with six rebounds and three steals as the Anteaters (6-5) ended a two-game skid. The loss was the seventh in a row for Pepperdine (3-10).
"We played with great effort in the second half," UCI coach Pat Douglass said. "Eric Wise took over the game down the stretch. We weren't turning the ball over, but we needed to hit the boards a little more." Pepperdine outrebounded UCI, 21-11, in the first half, but the Anteaters responded after halftime, and it coincided with a better job defensively.

UCI earned a 23-18 margin on the glass in the second half to cut down the second-chance opportunities Pepperdine was getting in the first half. Pepperdine was limited to seven second-chance points in the second half. The Waves had 12 second-chance points in the first half.
The strong board work combined with its hot shooting behind the arc helped Pepperdine take a 40-37 lead at intermission. The Waves shot 64 percent from 3-point land in the opening 20 minutes.
"They shot the ball well," Douglass said. "They can be a difficult team to guard. "We extended our defense in the second half and we got into them a little more." UCI led, 61-59, with 3:30 remaining when it took full control. Wise hit two free throws, then he stole the ball and finished with a dunk on the other end and UCI was in front, 65-59.

After a Michael Hunter layup, the exclamation point came when Hunter's lob pass was flushed home by Zack Atkinson to complete the alley-oop. It put UCI ahead, 69-59, with 1:39 to play.
UCI was able to stay close in the first half despite streaky shooting of its own. The Anteaters hit five consecutive 3-pointers after missing their first two. The final one gave UCI a 19-14 lead, but it did not hit another from beyond the arc the rest of the half.
Hunter ended with 16 points and three assists for the Anteaters. Darren Moore added 14 points. Atkinson had a team-high eight rebounds. Pepperdine had three players finish in double figures, led by Mychel Thompson's 16 points. Dane Suttle Jr. scored 15 and Lorne Jackson had 13 points. UCI finishes nonconference play next Monday when it visits San Jose State. The Anteaters open Big West action with a home stand against UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 2. and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Jan. 4. "We need to continue to get better and improve," Douglass said. "We tried some new kids tonight."

Pepperdine Hosts Utah on Wednesday Night
Courtesy: Pepperdine Sports Information
Release: 12/22/2009

Pepperdine Men's Basketball Game Notes

THE FACTS - The Pepperdine men's basketball team is offering up one of its biggest non-conference home games right before Christmas as the Waves host Utah, a 2009 NCAA Tournament team, on Wednesday evening. It's one of Pepperdine's final three non-conference games and it starts one of the most challenging three-game stretches of the season (at Georgia and at home vs. Miami is still to come).
GAME #14 - Wednesday (Dec. 23) at Firestone Fieldhouse: Pepperdine (3-10) vs. Utah (5-6) at 7 p.m.
ON THE WEB - Subscribers to "Wave Casts" can catch all Pepperdine men's basketball games on the internet at www.pepperdinesports.com. Veteran play-by-play man Al Epstein, now in his 25th season with the Waves, is behind the microphone. Home games will have live audio and video, while road games will be audio only. Go to the Pepperdine Athletics website and look for the Wave Casts link. An annual pass costs $69.95 and monthly subscriptions are also available. Live statistics will be available for all home matches free of charge, and links are provided to the home team's website when the Waves are on the road.
PROMOTIONS - For the Utah game, groups of 15 or more can purchase general admission tickets for $5 each ... If the Waves score 75 points or more in an upcoming home game, certificates will be given out afterward for a free piece of grilled chicken from the KFC in Malibu.
TICKETS - Men's basketball single-game tickets cost $15 (lower reserved), $12 (upper reserved), $10 (adult general admission) or $5 (child general admission). Call (866) WAVE-TIX to purchase tickets.
UTAH - Pepperdine is 1-5 all-time against Utah. The Waves' win came in the 1979 NCAA Tournament at Pauley Pavilion, a 92-88 victory in overtime. The Utes won all four in a four-game series from 2000-03, the last time the two schools met. Marty Wilson was an assistant coach at Utah for four seasons (2005-08) before returning to Pepperdine. The Utes made the NCAA Tournament last season. This will be only their second true road game of the season (the Utes lost at Weber State).
LAST GAME - A late run over the final 3 1/2 minutes saw the Pepperdine men's basketball team fall at UC Irvine, 74-61, on Monday (Dec. 21) at the Bren Events Center. The Waves were within two points at 61-59 with 3:35 to play, but the Anteaters scored the next 13 points and Pepperdine wasn't able to score again until the final buzzer. Mychel Thompson scored 16, Dane Suttle Jr. had 15 and Lorne Jackson added 13.
ROSTER - There are no seniors on the 2009-10 squad, and 12 of the 16 players are underclassmen. The roster features four juniors, seven sophomores and five true freshmen. Pepperdine does return 11 letterwinners from last season (believed to be among the most in school history). Twelve players are on scholarship and four are walk-ons.
SOPHOMORE SCORERS - Last season, Pepperdine's eight-man freshman class scored more than half of the Waves' points (57.4%). So far, the now-sophomore class has contributed 68.0% of Pepperdine's scoring.
BELL'S BIG START - Prior to Monday's game, sophomore guard Keion Bell ranked 11th nationally in scoring and was one of only two players in the nation averaging at least 20 points, five rebounds and four assists (Manny Harris of Michigan was the other). He's now at 20.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Bell has scored more than 20 points in eight of his 13 games, including a career-high 34 against Monmouth. He's been in double-figures in every game but one. At the pace he's on, he'll become Pepperdine's 35th 1,000-point scorer by the end of his sophomore season (he's got 684).
SUTTLE'S SHOOTING - Dane Suttle Jr., second-best on the team at 11.6 points per game, is one of the conference's best three-point shooters so far this season. He is averaging 2.3 per game (third in the WCC prior to Monday) and making 45.8% of them (27-for-59, sixth in the WCC prior to Monday).
THOMPSON TEAM CAPTAIN - Mychel Thompson was selected as team captain for 2009-10 after a landslide vote by his teammates. The junior forward is Pepperdine's only player that has been with the team for two full seasons. He is averaging 10.2 points this season and 9.1 points for his career, and has made 103 career three-pointers (he needs 113 to break into the school's top 10).
REBOUNDING - Rebounding is one area where the Waves are showing improvement over previous years. Last season the team had a negative-1.4 rebound margin, but this season it's at a positive 3.0. Pepperdine has had as many rebounds or more than opponents in nine of 13 games this season. The last time the Waves finished a season with a positive rebounding margin was 2000-01.
2009-10 HONORS - Keion Bell was named to the preseason All-WCC first team ... Bell was named MVP of the World Vision Challenge at Wyoming and Dane Suttle Jr. also made the all-tournament team ... The Waves were also the team champion at the World Vision Challenge.
RETURNERS - Four of the five starters from last year's team return (Keion Bell, Taylor Darby, Corbin Moore and Mychel Thompson). Pepperdine's returning players account for 82.5% percent of last year's scoring (1629/1974), 88.3% of the rebounds (919/1041), 65.4% of the assists (223/341), 95.0% of the blocked shots (96/101) and 77.2% of the steals (166/215).
NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE - Tom Asbury believes in preparing his team for league play with a difficult non-conference slate of games, and so that's what the Waves are in the midst of. The Waves play six games against non-conference teams that took part in the postseason last year: Portland State, UCLA and Utah made the NCAA Tournament, Miami (Fla.) was in the NIT, Wyoming was in the College Basketball Invitational and Pacific was in the inaugural CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Nine of the 16 non-conference games are at home.
WCC PRESEASON POLL - According to the WCC's coaches, the Waves are predicted to finish seventh in the conference. Their poll went in the following order: Gonzaga, Portland, Saint Mary's, San Francisco and Santa Clara (tied), San Diego, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount. Several national publications and websites have differing opinions on the Waves, including fourth (The Sporting News), fifth (The Sports Network), sixth (Athlon and Lindy's) and seventh (Rivals.com, CBSSports.com and CollegeHoops.net).
TELEVISION - The Waves are slated to appear on television several times once again in 2009-10. Six games will be shown locally - Nov. 23 at UCLA on Fox Sports West, Jan. 14 vs. Santa Clara on ESPNU, Jan. 21 at Gonzaga on Prime Ticket (delayed), Jan. 30 vs. San Diego on Prime Ticket, Feb. 18 vs. Portland on Prime Ticket and Feb. 20 vs. Gonzaga on Fox Sports West.
YOUTUBE SENSATION - Keion Bell, a preseason All-WCC first team selection, got Pepperdine a ton of publicity in mid-October. At Blue & Orange Madness, Pepperdine's event to kick off the start of practice, the sophomore guard finished up the dunk contest by leaping over five teammates and slamming it home. A Pepperdine fan happened to record the dunk on his iPhone and uploaded it onto YouTube. It quickly spread around the internet and at last check had nearly 1.1 million hits. ESPN's SportsCenter picked up the video and made the dunk the #2 Play of the Day.
TOM ASBURY - Now in his second stint in charge of the Waves is coaching great Tom Asbury. He returned to Malibu prior to the 2008-09 campaign to become the Waves' head coach again after 14 seasons away. Asbury was previously at Pepperdine for nine years as an assistant coach (1980-88) and then the next six as the head coach (1989-94). He went on to serve as head coach at Kansas State from 1995-2000 and was an assistant coach at Alabama from 2004-07. Asbury went 125-59 (.679) in his first head coaching job at Pepperdine and took the Waves to the postseason five times in six years with three NCAA Tournament appearances (1991, '92, '94) and two in the NIT (1989, '93). Pepperdine won three regular-season WCC titles and the school's only three WCC Tournament championships came under Asbury. Prior to the start of the 2009-10 season, his seven-year record at Pepperdine was 134-82 (.620) and his 13-year record as a head coach was 219-170 (.563).
ASSISTANTS - Upon his return, Tom Asbury wanted to find assistants with a passion for Pepperdine and an understanding of its mission, so he turned to three former student-athletes. It's believed that Duke and Pepperdine have the only two college basketball staffs where the assistant coaches are all alums. Associate head coach Marty Wilson (1985-89) and assistant coaches Damin Lopez (1990-94) and Will Kimble (2001-03) played in three different eras, all successful. In the 13 seasons that made up their playing careers, Pepperdine went a combined 261-135 (.659), had 12 winning seasons, won six WCC regular-season titles and three WCC tournament titles, and made six NCAA Tournaments and four NITs.
ONE RECRUIT - There are no seniors on the roster but Pepperdine had one scholarship to offer for 2010-11. During the early signing period, they inked Hector Harold, a 6-foot-6 small forward from the Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.) School. He was given a rating of 88 out of 100 by ESPN.com's recruiting site and is considered one of the top seniors in New England. He is originally from Pasadena, Calif.
LAST SEASON - Tom Asbury's return to Pepperdine brought much-needed stability to the program in his first season back. With only five players returning, Asbury and his new staff brought in 10 newcomers well after the regular letter-of-intent signing period. The young Waves posted a 9-23 overall record but got much better as the year went on, placing sixth in the WCC with a 5-9 record and winning a first-round game at the WCC Tournament. Keion Bell was named to the WCC All-Freshman team after averaging a team-best 12.9 ppg.
PEPPERDINE HISTORY - This is the 72nd season of Pepperdine basketball, and the Waves opened 2009-10 with an all-time record of 1,111-910 (.550). Pepperdine has been to the NCAA Tournament 13 times (last in 2002), and has won 12 West Coast Conference regular-season titles (last in 2002) and three WCC Tournament crowns (last in 1994).
BEST IN THE WEST - Pepperdine has long been one of the top Division I programs on the West Coast. Over the 31-season period from the 1978-79 season through the 2008-09 campaign, of the 32 schools that currently play Division I basketball in California, Oregon or Washington, the Waves began the 2009-10 season ranking third overall in postseason appearances (16) and fifth in both wins (525) and winning percentage (.565) over the past 31 years.
WAVES IN THE PROS - This is the 34th consecutive season where at least one Pepperdine alum has been on an NBA roster. Currently in the NBA is Yakhouba Diawara, now in his fourth season overall and his second with the Miami Heat. A total of 16 former Pepperdine players have gone on to play in the NBA, most notably Dennis Johnson (the 1979 NBA Finals MVP) and Doug Christie (a 15-year NBA veteran who was a mainstay on the All-Defensive Team). Some recent standouts have been playing in foreign countries, including Alex Acker (Italy), Tezale Archie (Netherlands), Brandon Armstrong (Venezuela), Gerald Brown (Poland), Jelani Gardner (Greece), Kelvin Gibbs (Germany), Chase Griffin (Germany), Dana Jones (Switzerland) and Glen McGowan (Dominican Republic). Robert "Hollywood" Turner, formerly a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, is now playing in Finland.
ABOUT PEPPERDINE - Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won a total of nine NCAA championships in five different men's sports - one of just 14 schools to have accomplished this feat. Of the 14, Pepperdine is the only non-BCS school and has by far the smallest enrollment. The majority of Pepperdine's teams are ranked nationally year after year and compete for conference and national titles.

Head coach Jeff Tedford leads the Bears into their seventh straight bowl game at the 2009 Poinsettia Bowl

Football Home
Bears Go Thru Final Full Workout of Season in San Diego
Busy Day of Poinsettia Bowl Events for Golden Bears Sunday
Cal Arrives in San Diego for Poinsettia Bowl

Dec. 23, 2009
Kickoff - California vs. Utah (Wednesday, Dec. 23)
Gameday CoverageTV: ESPNOnline Telecast: ESPN360.comGametrackerCal Bowl Guide (PDF)Cal Bowl Central
2009 Cal Football

Schedule Roster Information Guide In The News

This Week In Cal Football

Jahvid Best Named Pro Football Weekly Honorable Mention All-American (Dec. 21)Bears Go Thru Final Full Workout of Season in San Diego (Dec. 21)Busy Day of Poinsettia Bowl Events for Golden Bears Sunday (Dec. 20)Cal Arrives in San Diego for Poinsettia Bowl (Dec. 19)Thompson and Mohamed Named Sporting News All-Pac-10 (Dec. 17)Jeff Tedford Teleconference Quotes (Dec. 17)Jahvid Best Will Not Play in Poinsettia Bowl (Dec. 16)Five Bears Garner Postseason Honors Wednesday (Dec. 16)Syd'Quan Thompson Named Third-Team Sporting News All-American (Dec. 15)Golden Bears Begin Preparations for Poinsettia Bowl (Dec. 12)


Wednesday, Dec. 23, 5 p.m. (PT) California (8-4, 5-4 Pac-10) vs. No. 23 AP/No. 23 BCS/No. 24 USA Utah (9-3, 6-2 MWC)San Diego, Calif. - Qualcomm Stadium
Live Coverage TV: ESPN - Mike Patrick (Play-By-Play), Craig James (Analyst), Heather Cox (Sideline Reporter) Radio: National Radio: ESPN Radio - Bill Rosinski (Play-By-Play), Dennis Franchione (Analyst), Joe Schad (Sideline Reporter).
*Cal Commercial Radio: KGO 810 AM (San Francisco) - Joe Starkey (Play-By-Play), Troy Taylor (Analyst), Todd McKim (Sideline).*Each broadcast begins with a 30-minute pregame show. The postgame show includes reaction from the Bears' locker room and the "Postgame at the Paragon" program from the Paragon Bar & Cafe at the Claremont Resort & Spa hosted by Lee Grosscup and Kate Scott..
ISP Sports/Cal Radio Network Affiliates: KGIL 1260 AM (Los Angeles), XSURF 540 AM (San Diego), KESP 970 AM (Modesto), KTKZ 1380 AM (Sacramento).
Cal Student Radio: KALX 90.7 FM (Berkeley) - Danny Freisinger, Elliott Schwimmer, Ben Shpringer.
Sirius XM Satellite Radio: Cal fans can listen to the ESPN Radio broadcast feed on channels 120 (Sirius) and 140 (XM).
CalBears.com: Visit CalBears.com for complete coverage of Cal football, including a live play-by-play update via Gametracker.
Cal junior tailback Jahvid Best was selected an honorable mention All-American by Pro Football Weekly on Monday

Bears Go Thru Final Full Workout of Season in San Diego
Busy Day of Poinsettia Bowl Events for Golden Bears Sunday
Cal Arrives in San Diego for Poinsettia Bowl

Dec. 22, 2009
BERKELEY - Cal junior tailback Jahvid Best was selected an honorable mention All-American by Pro Football Weekly on Monday. The honor marked the first time this season and the second occasion in his career that Best has been named recognized on a post-season All-American team after his 2008 selection as a second-team All-American by College Football News.
Best was also one of the nation's top candidates for the Heisman Trophy during the early stages of the 2009 season and was well on his way to a second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing campaign before being injured on a seven-yard touchdown run against Oregon State on Nov. 7. Best has not played or practiced since the injury that required medical personal to attend to him on the field and transport him to the Highland General Hospital in Oakland for an overnight stay.
Best will also not play in the team's Poinsettia Bowl matchup with Utah on Wednesday, Dec. 23 (5 p.m.) in a game to be televised live by ESPN and also broadcast online on ESPN360.com.
The authority on pro football, Pro Football Weekly, annually honors the most talented players in college football and is determined based on considerable feedback from NFL evaluators taking into consideration a player's pure talent and contribution to his team. Unlike many other teams awarding the best college football players, PFW places an extra premium on true talent and draft value in the selection process.
Despite missing the team's last four games including the upcoming bowl contest, Best paces the club with 867 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns (12 rushing, 4 receiving) that are only one shy of Cal's modern-era record and two short of the school's all-time mark. His scoring average of 10.67 points per game ranks second in the Pac-10 and third nationally. He also ranks among the conference per-game leaders in rushing yardage (96.33 ypg) and all-purpose running yardage (122.0 ypg). Best was the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 19 after rushing for 131 yards and a school-record-tying five touchdowns on a career-high 26 carries to lead Cal to a 35-21 win at Minnesota.

Bears Go Thru Final Full Workout of Season in San Diego
Cal players also find time for fun during the Oggi's Pizza & Brewing Company Grand Prix at the Miramar Speed Circuit.

Mike Mohamed won the award as the fastest racer of the day at the Oggi's Pizza & Brewing Company Grand Prix at the Miramar Speed Circuit in Northeast San Diego on Monday.

Dec. 22, 2009
Bears Go Racing (Photo Gallery)

SAN DIEGO - The Cal football team put in a full workout for the final time in 2009 on Monday as the Golden Bears continued to prepare for their contest against Utah in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on Wednesday, Dec. 23 (5:00 p.m. PT). The game will be televised live by ESPN and also online by ESPN360.com.
"There's a certain amount of excitement to the last practice and then getting an opportunity to play in another game," said head coach Jeff Tedford.
"Practice was really good," added senior offensive lineman Mike Tepper. "We're very productive right now, fine-tuning everything and getting ready for Wednesday's game."
The Bears went through their high-energy hour-and-a-half workout at Torero Stadium on the University of San Diego campus Monday before taking time out for an afternoon of fun at the Miramar Speed Circuit on the northeast side of San Diego.
Players, coaches and staff members took part in the Oggi's Pizza & Brewing Company Grand Prix by racing go-karts at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour while participating in a series of qualifying races on the ¼-mile asphalt track. Two hours and nine qualifying races later the field was down to 10 finalists - Michael Calvin, Chris Conte, Skylar Curran, Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, Chris Guarnero, Mike Mohamed, Kevin Riley, Matt Rios, Nick Rosato and Steve Williams - who qualified to return for the championship race to conclude the day's action.

Mohamed would capture the title with Curran finishing second and DeBoskie-Johnson third. Devin Bishop also "won" an honor as the day's slowest racer. The day's activities wrapped up with the Poinsettia Bowl March through the Gaslamp, with the marching bands and spirit squads for both Cal and Utah parading through the district and meeting at 5th and Market Streets for a Battle of the Bands.
"All I can say is our guys have done a nice job with the schedules during bowl week," said Tedford. "We try to have some time where they can have fun and enjoy their bowl experience, but while really focusing on the game. I think that's pretty evident through our years of bowl preparation."
Cal has current school-record strings of seven straight bowl appearances and four consecutive bowl victories with an all-time record of 5-1 during Tedford's previous six games.
Bears to Fine Tune Poinsettia Bowl Preparations, Participate in Additional Bowl Activities TuesdayThe Bears will put some of the final touches on their preparation for the Poinsettia Bowl on Tuesday with a customary walk-through following Tedford's appearance at the official Poinsettia Bowl press conference and the AT&T Team Luncheon to be held aboard the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Cal will also go through its customary walk-through the day before the game on Tuesday.
For bowl tickets, information and complete coverage of the team's activities at the Poinsettia Bowl, visit the Cal Bowl Central page or call (800) GO BEARS.

December 22, 2009

Poinsettia Bowl: California vs. Utah
Bowl schedule/results
Utah puts its eight-game bowl winning streak - the nation's longest - on the line in against California in Wednesday night's Poinsettia Bowl.
The Utes are 11-3 in their postseason history, and the last loss came to Wisconsin in the 1996 Copper Bowl. This is Utah's second Poinsettia appearance in three seasons; the Utes beat Navy 35-32 in the 2007 edition.
Cal is playing in a bowl for the eighth consecutive season and has a four-game bowl winning streak of its own. The Golden Bears' last bowl loss came to Texas Tech in the 2004 Holiday Bowl, which also is played at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium.
California run offense vs. Utah run defense: Cal will be without starting TB Jahvid Best, who is still recovering from a concussion, but backup Shane Vereen is more than capable of producing a 100-yard game. Vereen received more than 15 carries in four games this season - and averaged 149.5 yards in those games, with five touchdowns. Cal has a physical offensive line that will look to wear down a smallish Utah defensive front. Utah needs LBs Stevenson Sylvester and Mike Wright to be active and productive. Edge: California

California (8-4) vs. Utah (9-3) WHEN: 8 p.m., Wednesday. WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego. TV: ESPN (Mike Patrick will do play-by-play, with Craig James as the analyst). THE LINE: California by 3. RECORDS VS. BOWL TEAMS: California 4-3, Utah 2-3. NCAA SCHEDULE STRENGTH: California T-61st, Utah 91st. BCS RANKING: California unranked, Utah 23rd. COACHES: California - Jeff Tedford (5-1 in bowls); Utah - Kyle Whittingham (4-0 in bowls). WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: This is a good Mountain West vs. Pac-10 matchup. Cal appeared headed to a bigger bowl before getting blown out in the regular-season finale by Washington. Utah also lost its finale, in overtime to archrival BYU. Both teams will be looking to make amends. KEY STATS: California is 108th in the nation in pass defense, allowing 260.9 yards per game, with 17 TD passes. Utah is No. 14 in pass defense (172.8 yards per game) - and No. 9 in pass efficiency defense - and has allowed 11 TD passes. KEEP AN EYE ON: While star Cal RB Jahvid Best will miss the game, backup Shane Vereen is no slouch. And neither is Utah RB Eddie Wide, who became the starter in Game 5 when Matt Asiata was lost for the season. Both teams need their running backs to have big games. Who will have the best? California pass offense vs. Utah pass defense: Cal QB Kevin Riley threw 17 TD passes and just six interceptions, but in the Golden Bears' four losses, Riley tossed just two touchdown passes. In short, when Cal runs effectively, Riley is a competent passer. But when Cal is forced to throw, Riley struggles mightily and can't win a game by himself. Marvin Jones and Verran Tucker are Cal's leading two receivers -and they have combined for 64 catches. Vereen is a dangerous receiver out of the backfield. Cal has allowed 27 sacks, and Utah has made 26 sacks. FS Robert Johnson has been the star in the secondary, with five interceptions, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. Utah allowed five foes to throw for at least 200 yards, but none threw for more than 252 - and that was in a 31-point win over New Mexico. Edge: Utah
Utah run offense vs. California run defense: Eddie Wide didn't become the starting running back until the fifth game, but he made up for lost time, rushing for 1,032 yards and 12 TDs. He had seven 100-yard games, including a stretch of six in a row. Utah has a solid line led by T Zane Beadles. Cal's run defense, for the most part, has been solid. But teams that made it a priority to run right at the Golden Bears generally had success. Cal gave up 11 rushing TDs in its final five regular-season games. LB Mike Mohamed had an excellent season and leads Cal with 105 tackles. Edge: Utah
Utah pass offense vs. California pass defense:
David Reed was one of the best receivers on the West Coast this season; he has 75 receptions for 1,085 yards and five touchdowns. He and Jereme Brooks form a productive duo. True freshman QB Jordan Wynn didn't play until the eighth game; coaches were planning on redshirting him until deciding at halftime against Wyoming to throw him into the fray. He played OK down the stretch. He has a good arm but still is learning the offense and must improve his accuracy. Cal had problems on pass defense this season. CB Syd'Quan Thompson is a star, but too often the Golden Bears gave up big yardage in the passing game. Edge: Even
California special teams vs. Utah special teams:
P Bryan Anger is the star of Cal's special teams. He averages 42.1 yards per kick and has put 22 inside the opposition's 20. Cal's punt returners have been good, the kick returners barely adequate. The punt coverage team needs work, but the kick coverage unit has been OK. Freshman kicker Vince D'Amato is 7-for-12 on the season but just 2-for-6 from beyond 30 yards. Backup Giorgio Tavecchio has a stronger leg and is 3-for-7 from beyond 30 yards. Utah's Joe Phillips was the best kicker in the Mountain West this season, going 17-of-19 on field-goal attempts, including 5-for-6 from beyond 40 yards. P Sean Sellwood was a second-team Rivals.com freshman All-America selection after averaging 432.1 yards per boot. The return units are adequate, the coverage units a bit shaky. Edge: Utah
California coaching staff vs. Utah coaching staff:
Cal coach Jeff Tedford's team underachieved a bit this season. Riley is a junior but remains inconsistent. While Cal's rushing attack is a powerful one, when it is stymied the offense as a whole grounds to a halt. Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig held the same position at Utah last season. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory's unit has done a good job on third downs, but the pass coverage was shaky for most of the season. Kyle Whittingham oversees one of the two or three best non-Big Six programs in the nation. He and his staff took a big chance taking the redshirt off Wynn so late in the season, but it should pay off big next season. Both coordinators are new this season, and Whittingham changed offensive play-callers late in the season. Edge: Even
X-factor: Both teams probably figured they'd end up a little higher in the bowl pecking order, but you especially have to wonder about Cal's mindset. The Golden Bears mailed it in in their regular-season finale, a 42-10 beatdown at the hands of a five-win Washington team. Will the Bears play with any passion?
California will win if: If the Golden Bears run effectively, they'll be in good shape. Vereen is no Best, but he still will be the second- or third-best running back Utah has seen this season. When the running game is effective, Riley is, too, because he is able to use play-action to his heart's content.
Utah will win if: The Utes want to make Riley beat them, so stifling Vereen is the key. The Utes are going to have to play aggressively with their safeties, which shouldn't be a problem given how pedestrian Cal's receiving corps has been this season.

Another Busy Day for Bears on Eve of Poinsettia Bowl
Inspirational speeches at AT&T Team Luncheon highlight Tuesday's activities.

Jeff Tedford presents a Cal jersey to Vince, the Bears' honorary captain for Wednesday's game from the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Dec. 23, 2009
Photo Gallery
: Tuesday in San Diego
SAN DIEGO - A series of inspirational speeches during the AT&T Team Luncheon held on the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum didn't leave many dry eyes in the house and highlighted the day's activities on the eve of the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
A capacity crowd of nearly 1,000 attendees, including both the Cal and Utah football squads, listened to moving testimonies from a pair of teenagers that discussed how the Make-A-Wish Foundation had helped them with their circumstances of cancer in one case, and homelessness and family violence in another.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation made the dream of taking a family trip to Maui a reality for the cancer patient, while rewarding a $5,000 scholarship to the teenager in his effort to end a vicious cycle in his family. Both Cal head coach Jeff Tedford and Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham also spoke at the event.
In addition to recognizing the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Tedford thanked his players and coaches, the Cal band and the bowl organizers in his brief address to the audience. He also provided Make-A-Wish kid Vince, who will serve as an honorary team captain during Wednesday's bowl, with his own Cal jersey.
The program also included highlight videos of both teams, as well as videos the history of the Poinsettia Bowl and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Poinsettia Bowl officials would later announce the winners of the Wishes-Come-True Inspirational Award with recruiting assistant Kevin Parker winning the honor for the Golden Bears.
Parker spoke of a program that he is heavily involved with that takes Cal's players to see what life is like inside behind the bars of San Quentin State Prison. "We take players there to see the things they have," Parker told the crowd. "The choices they have made to go to school, to get a great education, to continue that and don't get off that path."

The team's players and coaches then had a chance to spend some time on the ship before getting back to preparations for Wednesday's game against the Utes.
Walk-Through and Visit to Qualcomm StadiumThe Golden Bears headed straight from the luncheon to Torero Stadium on the University of San Diego campus for an approximately one-hour walk-through. After that, it was on to Qualcomm Stadium to familiarize themselves with the venue they will play in on Wednesday evening. Dante Hughes, a former Cal player and current member of the San Diego Chargers, was on hand to greet the Golden Bears.
Morning Press ConferenceHead coach Jeff Tedford participated in the official Poinsettia Bowl press conference on Tuesday morning at Omni San Diego Hotel.
"It's an honor to be here in the Poinsettia Bowl and to represent the University of California and the Pac-10 Conference," said Tedford. "We've been here in San Diego for the Holiday Bowl a couple of times, and our kids always have a great experience here in San Diego."
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia BowlCal (8-4, 5-4 Pac-10 will face No. 23 Utah (9-3, 6-2 MWC) in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on Wednesday, Dec. 23 (5:00 p.m. PT). The game will be televised live by ESPN and also online by ESPN 360.com. Cal has current school-record strings of seven straight bowl appearances and four consecutive bowl victories with an all-time record of 5-1 during Tedford's six bowls at Cal.

Ryan Gorcey
BearTerritory.net Publisher
SAN DIEGO--Tomorrow is all about numbers. It will be the third straight game in which the Cal football team will face a ranked opponent: No. 23 Utah (9-3). It will be the eighth straight bowl game for the Bears, who will try for their fifth straight win -- all under head coach Jeff Tedford's clipboard. But the number that will be most conspicuous, if only for its absence, will be No. 4.While Cal tailback Jahvid Best will be in uniform -- at least in-jersey -- for the Bears' Pointsettia Bowl matchup against the Utes, he will not play in what many believe will be the last time Cal fans see him in blue and gold.
Jahvid Best will be on the sidelines, but not in the lineup for the Bears in the Pointsettia Bowl."Jahvid's very, very bummed," said sophomore running back Shane Vereen. "He wants nothing more than to come out on the field with us. What we do tomorrow, it's going to be for him."Vereen and Best have long been very close. Since high school, the two have been closely linked, so much so that mere hundredths of seconds separated the two when they ran against one another in state track finals during their senior year of high school. When both came to Cal, it was as the Dynamic Duo of Shane the Train and Jahvid the Jet. So, when asked if he had any insight into what Best's decision may be regarding his future with the Bears, Vereen smiled knowingly, but before letting the cat out of the bag, he pulled back."We'll see. You never know," Vereen said. "He still hasn't decided. But it's his decision."But that, as Vereen said, is all in the future. "Next year's so far away," Vereen said. "I'm excited about it, but at the same time, I just can't wait to get out there on the field tomorrow."

Shane Vereen has rushed for 830 yards on 163 carries with 10 TDs in 2009.Though taking the field without an explosive playmaker like Best may seem like a disadvantage for Cal (8-4), but not when you consider his backup Vereen. The Train has kept on chugging in Best's absence, amassing 88 carries for 444 yards and three scores on the ground while also accounting for five catches for 45 yards in his past three starts."They're very similar," said senior left tackle Mike Tepper. "Jahvid's very explosive, and so is Shane. It doesn't matter which one I block for. They're both going to get the job done very well."