6-6 (3-6), 7th Pacific-10
9-3 (6-2), 2nd Mountain West
December 31, 12:30pm, ESPN
At one point in the season the Cal Bears were 5-0 and number 2 in the country. They finished their last 7 games with a 1-6 record, a huge disappointment for a team with a ton of talent and could've challenged USC for the Pac 10 title. Air Force had another solid year losing 3 games to BYU, New Mexico, and Navy; all teams that made bowl games. The Falcons finished their season winning 6 of their last 7 games.
Offensively, there might not be a team in the country that can match up with the talent that Cal has. At quarterback Nate Longshore threw for 2544 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The one game he missed, a loss to Oregon State. Running the ball for the Bears is Justin Forsett, who has also been a bit banged up this season. Forsett ran for over 1400 yards with 13 touchdowns. At wideout, the tandem of DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins combined for 1500 yards and 10 touchdowns. Jackson is also an explosive force in the return game. I think it would be in Air Force's best interest to kick away from him. The Bears are ranked in the 50s both against the pass and the run on defense.
Air Force's rushing offense is second only to Navy. Like their armed forces counterpart, they like to run the ball a lot and Chad Hall and his 1400 plus yards lead the way. Hall is a key part to the receiving game also, as he is the Falcons' leading receiver. Shaun Carney adds another 500 yards rushing as the quarterback, but he also has a decent arm throwing for 1423 yards with 8 touchdowns. The Falcons are tough against the run giving up a little over 130 yards per game on the ground, and if Longshore makes a wrong read, Carson Bird and his 6 interceptions will make him pay.
If we are looking at this game based on talent alone, it is a no brainer, Cal would win hands down. But the jury is still out on whether or not they have given up on the season. I think one of the main reasons that the Bears went downhill in the second half of the year is because of injuries. Longshore's ankle was banged up and it hurt him plus Forsett was also play at way less than 100%. Add to that, DeSean Jackson has been battling leg problems all year and you have a recipe for a slide. The month off will help Cal heal and win this bowl game. California 35 Air Force 24
Picking California to Win
ITB Brian Sakowski, Bastard Sons of Pinfall Marks, Football Frontier, The LSC Scoop, Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, ITB Charlie Swager, Rizzo Sports, ITB Ron Juckett, Kansas It's Business Time, Sportsbone TV, MizzouRAH, Dan Schoonover, Rodney Polston, Greg Gowins, Lorena The Dodgerchick, Matt Kieta, Timmy B, Brian Isaacson, Logan Jaffe, Richard Dixon
Picking Air Force to Win
The Enlightened Spartan, Corn Nation, Pitch Right, MidWest Coast Bias, Jeff Brancolini, Pete Boivin, Jason Stiver, Cyril Tircuit, Lou Nemec, Mrs Corn Nation, Sunny Verma, Brant Chruscial