San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
No. 25 Utah vs. California
The bowl with the longest name in the postseason returns with worse teams but at least one more marquee name this year. Last year was the showdown between undefeated Boise State and one-loss TCU. Both of these teams had trouble winning against most of the better teams on their schedule but won enough games to get here.
WHY YOU CARE / Because both teams tend to play well in postseason games and have bowl winning streaks coming into this one. They're pretty evenly matched teams, which gives you as good an indication as we can have that the game should be good. Then again, bowl games are odd things.
UTAH (9-3) / Ranked because there are no better choices in the minds of many voters. The Utes lost to every good team they played (Oregon, TCU, BYU) and defeated only two decent teams (Air Force, Wyoming). Utah also defeated Colorado State by a touchdown. I say that as an insult to the Utes; every other team in the Mountain West also won against Colorado State, who went 3-9 this year.
CAL (8-4) / If this were not 2009, the Golden Bears would be the most confusing team in the NCAA. They won three games to begin the season -- including two against teams from BCS leagues -- before getting waxed by Oregon and Southern Cal. They won three more games -- then lost to Oregon State by 17. Then they defeated Arizona and Stanford -- only to get shellacked by Washington. Washington!
WHO WILL WIN / UTAH, because they have a slightly better defense, and we all know the old cliche: Defense wins San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl championships.