Holiday Bowl Picks & Predictions: California vs. Texas 12/28/11

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Over the course of the first week of bowl games, there aren’t a heck of a lot of teams that are the big time collegiate programs that are going to send thousands and thousands of fans to the game. That all changes when we make our Holiday Bowl picks though, as the Texas Longhorns take on the Cal Golden Bears in San Diego.

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Holiday Bowl Matchup: California Golden Bears vs. Texas Longhorns
Holiday Bowl Date/Time: Wednesday, December 28th, 4:30 ET
Holiday Bowl Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
Holiday Bowl Odds: Texas -3
Holiday Bowl Total: 47.5
Holiday Bowl TV Coverage: ESPN, ESPN3.com

Depending on which team turns out to dominate the flow of this game, there could either be a whole heck of a lot of offense or a whole heck of a lot of defense in this game. Texas is hoping for defense. Cal is probably a little more flexible, but generally, it is hoping for offense. Both teams have proven that they can win either type of game though, and that should make for an awesome Holiday Bowl, making it one of the best bowl games early in the season.

Texas has its problems offensively, though. The team really never did settle on a quarterback this year, though we tend to think that QB Case McCoy, brother of Longhorns’ legend QB Colt McCoy who will take the majority of the snaps in this game. The running situation is murky as well, as there could be a heck of a lot of different players carrying the pigskin. There really hasn’t been much continuity due to injury, but the unit is still averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground. If this isn’t going to be the case at the Holiday Bowl though, the Horns are clearly in a heck of a lot of trouble. The good news though, is that their defense is tremendous. It had some games this year in which it just didn’t stack up, like the regular season finale against Heisman Trophy winner, QB Robert Griffin and the Baylor Bears, but for the most part, they really performed well against the middle of the road teams in the conference who are comparable to what they will be taking on with the Golden Bears.

Cal uses the run and pass effectively, and Head Coach Jeff Tedford has really done a nice job making the best out of a bad situation at quarterback. QB Zach Maynard is a transfer from the University of Buffalo, and he survived an offseason challenge to take over the starting quarterback job, and he never looked back. WRs Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones can both go deep, and when secondaries are loosened up, it really makes more room for RBs Isi Sofele and CJ Anderson, both of which have the big time running capabilities as well. This offense has it all, but the reason why this team didn’t make the most of its situation this year is because it took awhile for it all to gel and there are still some tremendous inconsistencies.

We just don’t love this Texas team, but we aren’t really all that wild over Cal either. That being said, we think that this game is a bit of a toss-up. Nothing would surprise us, but we’d rather take the points and have them on our side than lay points. The Golden Bears weren’t in a bowl game last year, but they are going to be thrilled to be in a de facto home game in this one. We’re still not all that sure, two years removed from playing in the BCS National Championship Game, how excited the Longhorns are about playing in the Holiday Bowl as well.

Free Holiday Bowl Pick: California +3

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Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Cappersinfo.com Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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