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All selections, analysis and thoughts will be posted on the Bowl Express Thread
SPOOKY EXPRESS BOWLING FOR DOLLARS SELECTION AND ANALYSIS THREAD Holiday Bowl
Texas vs. California
Wednesday, Dec. 28, 8:00 pm
he Holiday Bowl matchup between the California Golden Bears and Texas Longhorns is probably one of the best non-BCS bowl games..and it will be better than at least three of the BCS bowl games. Both teams possess the ability to explode on game-changing plays, and both teams are far, far better than their 7-5 mark suggests.
This 2011 season demonstrated several things. First, both Cal and Texas have the ability to return to their former privileged status. They have the recruits (especially Texas) and they have the top-notch facilities (especially Cal). They have large and devoted fan bases. They have money. California definitely has a balance offense.
A Holiday Bowl win would signal the re-emergence of at least one of these programs to their previous elite status. It would tip potential star recruits their way. It would give them momentum and confidence for the future.
For the Longhorns, it might be the win that propels them back on track to face down Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. It might be a fitting farewell to a winning coach. For Cal, it might be a long-awaited revenge for a 2004 trick by that very same coach. It might be the win necessary for competing with Oregon and USC as the top team in the Pac-12 after Stanford's Andrew Luck leaves.
The Texas defense ranks 14th in the nation overall and was first in the Big-12. They were lit up in their last game, but by Heisman Trophy winner RG3 (Robert Griffin III). I think that game simply an aberration and Texas will have had weeks to prepare for a solid California offensive attack.
Cal is led by quarterback Zack Maynard and running back Iso Safely, who were largely responsible for the team winning three of the last four games this season. Their offensive scheme will look to take advantage of what the Texas defense will give them, which will be underneath routes, slants, and drags. Texas will play a base cover-2 and not allow any deep vertical routes to get behind them. Mack Brown believes that the Texas running game will to it's mid-season form thanks to the return of many players that were out due to injury. He has them working very hard and had three straight days of intense practices Sunday through Tuesday. They will then back off steadily as the bowl game approaches. This shows how serious Mack Brown is to finish the season with a bowl win. I do expect Texas to establish the run and use more varied formations and misdirection running plays as they look to get a quick Cal defense out of their gap disciplines. The return of a healthy Malcolm Brown will be key to this execution.
The last four weeks of the season, Texas played without many of their offensive weapons. All but Whittaker will be back in the stable for Texas, and the Longhorns will have a strong ground game. They then can use play action to attack the seems and the middle of the field with ball control-type pass routes. This will end up being a game of field position.
All this being said this game is basically even. Maybe Texas has a 1 point advantage. So we are looking at the pointspread as the deciding factor. Maybe even a play on the total which I am leaning towards the Over. Right now we have to wait and see but I lean to California with the points. This game will probably come down to afield goal unless California wins this game going away late.