Cal fans haven’t forgotten.
In 2004, a loss to Texas cost the Cal football team a Rose Bowl bid — except the teams never played that season.
The Bears finished the regular season with a 10-1 record, their lone loss at the hands of eventual national champion USC. That appeared to open the Pac-10’s spot in the Rose Bowl for Cal, but Longhorns head coach Mack Brown lobbied the media and Texas, with the same record, received the berth.
The Bears will have an opportunity for a revenge of sorts at 5 p.m. on Dec. 28 when the two teams face off in the Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif. The two programs have both accepted invitations, announced Chuck Wasker, president of the 2011 Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, on Sunday.
Jeff Tedford remains, as does Brown, but not much else is the same for the teams. Instead of fighting over “The Granddaddy of Them All” with nearly spotless records, they are matched up in a middle tier bowl with 10 losses collectively. Nevertheless, the squads look to be evenly matched; they have identical records this season, both going 7-5 overall and 4-5 in conference play.
“2004 is a long time ago. I don’t remember much about it except for feeling like there was a great opportunity there,” Tedford said in a statement. “We all felt like we were going to the Rose Bowl. However it unfolded, we were left scratching our heads as to how that happened. But that was a long time ago. I felt bad for our team because I really felt like we deserved to be in the Rose Bowl that year, but we’re in 2011 now and it is a whole different situation.”
Cal finished its regular season off strong, bouncing back from a blowout loss at UCLA on Oct. 29 to win three of its last four. The Bears crushed Oregon State, 23-6, two weeks later to become bowl eligible. A Big Game upset fell short, but Cal closed out the regular season with its first conference road win, defeating Arizona State in a high-scoring affair.
Texas, meanwhile, won its first four, including a 49-20 whopping of the Bruins in Pasadena, Calif. The Longhorns came back to earth in the Big 12 season, losing to all four ranked teams they faced.
Two Pac-12 squads received BCS bowl berths. Conference winner Oregon will take on Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, while Stanford will battle Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Holiday Bowl held the third pick out of the Pac-12 and the fifth pick out of the Big 12. The Cardinal’s Fiesta Bowl berth and fifth-ranked USC’s postseason ban opened up room for the Bears to move up. Texas finished sixth in the Big 12 after a 48-24 loss to Baylor, but all eight bowls with a conference ties passed over fifth-place Missouri.
The Bears’ 2011 home, San Francisco’s AT&T Park, is the location of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, where UCLA will face Illinois on Dec. 31.
Washington, Utah and Arizona State received bowl berths in the Alamo, Sun and Las Vegas Bowls, respectively.