Dec. 28, 2006
SAN DIEGO (AP) - What a difference it made when California actually wanted to be in the Holiday Bowl.
Two years after a BCS snub led to an uninspired trip to San Diego, the No. 21 Golden Bears dominated the No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies 45-10 behind Marshawn Lynch, who ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Plus, the Golden Bears' defense showed a Big 12 team that the Pac-10 can be tough, too.
Cal (10-3) put an emphatic final touch to its second 10-win season in three years. The Golden Bears had lost to Arizona and Southern California in disheartening fashion before beating rival Stanford and then the Aggies (9-4).
In 2004, Cal was in position to end its long Rose Bowl drought but was leapfrogged in the final Bowl Championship Series standings by Texas. Although the fourth-ranked Golden Bears claimed not to be bothered by the snub, they couldn't even hang with No. 23 Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl and were humiliated 45-31.
"There were a lot of things surrounding the Holiday Bowl last time," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "Obviously this was a different experience. Last time we were here we felt slighted by a computer ranking. This year we were where we deserved to play."
The Golden Bears heard a lot of talk about how physical Big 12 teams are.
"We wanted to prove our brand of football and I think we showed ourselves well," Tedford said. "I think we played pretty physical football in the Pac-10."
Aggies coach Dennis Franchione agreed.
"Cal played a great game," Franchione said. "We were not up to the task. They controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball."
Lynch, the Pac-10 offensive player of the year, scored on a 2-yard run in the second quarter to give Cal a 14-7 lead. While Longshore lined up at wide receiver, Lynch was in the shotgun formation, took the snap and bulled into the end zone.
Lynch scored on a 1-yard run in the third, leaping over the line and fumbling as he came down in the end zone. The Aggies recovered and referee John O'Neill signaled first down for Texas A&M, then said the play was being reviewed. Replay official Jim Augustyn ruled that Lynch had possession when he broke the plane of the end zone, making it 21-10 Cal.
While the Golden Bears moved up and down the field, their defense came up big, too.
Jorvorskie Lane, Texas A&M's 274-pound tailback, wasn't much of a factor after tying a 79-year-old school record with 19 rushing touchdowns this year. He was held to 36 yards and no touchdowns on seven carries.
Longshore scored on a 1-yard keeper to tie the game at 7 in the first quarter, eight plays after Texas A&M's Stephen McGee threw a 19-yard TD pass to Chad Schroeder.
Longshore also threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Lavelle Hawkins late in the third quarter. He finished 19-of-24 for 235 yards.
Texas A&M gambled a few times too many. After Bryce Reed gained 7 yards on a fake punt in the first quarter, the drive bogged down and the Aggies went for it on fourth-and-8 from the Cal 32. McGee was sacked by Nu'u Tafisi.
Lynch scored his first TD five plays later.
His second touchdown was set up when Texas A&M's Justin Brantly shanked a punt out of bounds for no gain at the Aggies' 41. Lynch scored four plays later.
The Aggies failed to convert on another fourth-down play in the fourth quarter.
"It comes down to making plays," McGee said. "When it mattered most, it seemed like we were always a yard short."
Tedford said he would have preferred that the Golden Bears take a knee to end the game, but that the players wanted Schutte, one of the quietest players on the team, to get a touchdown.
The Holiday Bowl is sponsored by Pacific Life.