Cal To Meet Utah In Poinsettia Bowl

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SAN DIEGO (AP) - California and Utah will meet in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

The Utes (9-3) from the Mountain West Conference have won eight straight bowl appearances, including last season's Sugar Bowl against Alabama. Their bowl winning streak is the nation's longest.

"We look at it as another challenge," Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We've had a bunch of those BCS opponents over the last seven or eight years, and our guys are prepared and looking for a chance to play these higher-profile teams. And Cal-Berkeley is certainly one of those teams."

Cal (8-4) could have earned a trip to the Holiday Bowl by beating Washington but the Golden Bears were routed in their season finale 42-10.

They still get a trip to sunny San Diego - and hope to welcome back star tailback Jahvid Best following his frightening concussion last month.

This is the seventh straight year that Tedford has guided Cal to a bowl appearance, the longest streak in school history. The Bears are 5-1 in their previous six bowl games.

California holds a 4-2 edge all-time against Utah, but the Utes have won two of the last three, at Cal in 1964 and at home in 2003.

Cal offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Andy Ludwig coached at Utah in the same capacity from 2005-2008.

"There are a few similar concepts," Bears coach Jeff Tedford said. "Obviously with Andy being there (at Utah) and having familiarity there. I haven't seen Utah and don't know what they're doing, but I know Andy has a great deal of respect for their program. We'll definitely rely on Andy's background a little bit."

Utah, which beat Navy 35-32 in the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl, is led on offense by tackle Zane Beadles and the first 1,000-yard rushing-receiving tandem at Utah in 18 years: running back Eddie Wide (1,032 yards) and receiver David Reed (1,085 yards).

Utah's defense ranks in the top 25 nationally in pass efficiency defense, pass defense, total defense and scoring defense.

Cal features the tailback tandem of Best (867 yards) and Shane Vereen (830 yards). Best has not played or practiced since being injured against Oregon State on Nov. 7 and his status for the Poinsettia Bowl is uncertain.

Quarterback Kevin Riley has thrown for 2,636 yards and 17 touchdowns.