The California Golden Bears (7–5, 4–5 Pac-12) have finished our regular season, but our future remains uncertain pending the Pac-12 conference championship game, as well as the championships for the SEC and the Big-12 and how they affect the selections for the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six games.
Here’s how various sources are predicting the Pac-12 will spend the bowl season.
Post–Week 14 bowl projections
|.||247||CBS||ESPN, KB||ESPN, MS|
|.||247||CBS||ESPN, KB||ESPN, MS|
|CFP/Cotton||Utah (CFP)||Utah (Cotton)||Utah (CFP)||—|
|Sun||Washington State||California||Arizona State||Arizona State|
|Las Vegas||Arizona State||Washington State||Washington State||Washington|
The 247 Sports prediction would be frustrating for Sun Devils—ASU, Cal, and Washington are in all entangled with 7–5 overall records (4–5 Pac-12) with ASU having the best head-to-head record (1–0 as they did not play Washington), but this projection would have them as the lowest-picked team. I guess this is technically possible as the Sun Bowl can choose between ASU and WSU as only one win separates them, but it would be disheartening for those in Tempe.
Anyway, they’re sending us to the Redbox Bowl to face the Illinois Fighting Illini (6–6, 4–5 Big Ten, where former Bear Austin Clark is the defensive line coach. Illinois leads the series 7–3, with Cal winning the last two meetings under the tutelage of Jeff Tedford.
Since there was some hand-wringing about this at the start of the season, CBS Sports officially projects there will be one more bowl-eligible team than spots and that the poor Toledo Rockets will be left bowl-less despite being 6–6. For more non-Cal notes, the tradition of the Cheez-It Bowl is projected be continued by our old friend, Sonny Dykes.
Moving onto Cal-relevant news, CBS Sports has us going to the Sun Bowl against the Boston College Eagles (6–6, 4–4 ACC). Cal and Boston College have only played once—in 1986. BC won that game, 21–15, over Joe Kapp’s Cal squad. There would be one question mark as BC just fired their head coach, Steve Addazio, after seven seasons. But the Sun Bowl pick is curious as I don’t see the Santa Clara–based Redbox Bowl passing on us—our 2008 game is the highest-attended edition in the history of the bowl and they’ll want to bank on the local fans’ bank accounts.
ESPN’s two predictions are in agreement with my conclusion, both sending us to the Redbox Bowl. Together with 247 Sports, that makes three predictions for the Redbox Bowl, though they’re all against different opponents—it wouldn’t be the best trip for the players, but it would help build a nice homefield advantage for the Bears.
Kyle Bonagura is pairing us with the Iowa Hawkeyes (9–3, 6–6 Big Ten), the alma mater of one of my buddies now at Twitch. Iowa is ranked as one of the top-20 teams in the nation and upset then-eighth-ranked Minnesota, so this would be quite the daunting challenge. In Justin Wilcox’s one year as Wisconsin DC, he completely stifled the Iowa offense en route to a 17–9 win. Iowa leads the series 3–1, but their three wins came way back in the 1958, 59, and 61 seasons—including our last Rose Bowl appearance. Cal dominated our last meeting, 37–3 in the 1993 Alamo Bowl.
His compatriot Mark Schlabach has a less-intimidating opponent—the Indiana Hoosiers (8–4, 5–4 Big Ten). While they might not be as good as Iowa, they lost by less than one touchdown to then-#9 Penn State. The Bears swept our home-and-home series against the Hoosiers back in 1969 and 70, which are the only times our teams have met.
With Selection Sunday around the corner, which would be your preferred bowl match-up?
This poll is closed
Sun Bowl vs. Boston College
Redbox Bowl vs. Illinois
Redbox Bowl vs. Iowa
Redbox Bowl vs. Indiana