SAN DIEGO—The Utah Utes and the California Golden Bears are set to square off in the 2009 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Wednesday, December 23. The game will be played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. PST and will be televised on ESPN.
Utah makes its seventh straight bowl appearance; its second Poinsettia Bowl invitation in three years. In the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl, the Utes defeated Navy 35-32. Last year Utah defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl.
California is also making its seventh straight bowl appearance; its first Poinsettia Bowl invitation. Last year the Golden Bears defeated the University of Miami Hurricanes 24-17 in the Emerald Bowl.
Utah comes into this game ranked 23rd in both the BCS Standings and the AP Top 25 Poll and 24th in the Coaches Poll. The Utes finished with an overall record of 9-3 (6-2 third place finish in the Mountain West Conference). Utah opened the season winning their first eight of nine games. However, the Utes lost two of their last three games, including a 55-28 loss the No. 4 TCU and a 26-23 overtime loss to No. 19 BYU in the last regular season game.
Cal comes into the game unranked, having previously been ranked 19 in the AP Top 25. The Bears finished with an overall record of 8-4 (5-4 sixth place finish in the Pac-10 Conference). Cal kicked a field goal with 21 seconds left to beat ASU 23-21 to run their record to 6-2. After that, the Bears lost to unranked Oregon, beat then No. 17 Arizona and then No. 17 Stanford. Cal lost their last regular season game at Washington 42-10.
Utah is averaging 29.3 points per game on an average of 389 total yards per game. 170 yards of total offence comes via the rushing game, led by junior Eddie Wide. Wide is a 1,000-yard rusher, having gained 1,032 yards and 12 touchdowns on 182 carries. Wide has seven 100-yard rushing games in the last nine games, missing another 100-yard game by 16 yards against New Mexico on November 7th. Senior wide receiver David Reed leads the team in receiving with 1,085 yards on 75 receptions and five touchdowns. Defensively, the Utes give up just under 20 points per game.
Cal is also averaging 29.3 points per game on an average of 399 total yards per game. The Bears are lead by junior quarterback Kevin Riley, who is 189-of-346 for 2636 yards and 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. Riley has three times thrown for less than 44 percent completion percentage; all three times the Bears lost. In the regular season finale loss to Washington, Riley was 14-of-32 for 215 yards and one touchdown. Defensively, the Bears give up 24.5 points per game.