What a headline lol.
Cal is in its first bowl since 2015. The Bears are making their third appearance in the now-named Cheez-It Bowl after playing in the 1990 Copper Bowl and 2003 Insight Bowl. ... TCU played in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl against Boise State and the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Michigan State in its two previous bowl games in Arizona. ... Cal’s Patrick Laird needs 68 yards rushing to join Marshawn Lynch and Russell White as the only players in school history with multiple 1,000-yard seasons. Laird ran for 1,127 yards in 2017. ... TCU has allowed 14 sacks this season, tied for 14th nationally.
This game is meaningful for both squads.
“Bowl games, when people have a month to get ready, anything can happen,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. “I thought last year’s game with Stanford would be defensive and it was 30-something to 30-something. … Whatever it takes, we believe that offensively we need to score one more and defensively we need to allow one less.
“Whatever we can do to get that seventh win is what we need to get accomplished.”
Regardless, Patterson as well as Cal head coach Justin Wilcox are both known for their defensive prowess. Cal ranked 16th nationally in total defense while TCU ranked 26th this season.
“Oh, yeah, big time,” Cal junior safety Ashtyn Davis said when asked if Wednesday’s game would come down to defense. “I think that we perform well under pressure. It is something that we’ve kind of embraced this year and gotten a lot better with (time). Yeah, we definitely look forward to it.”
No one believes either of these teams can score, so we are in for a shootout, right?
Cal’s defensive resurgence has been led by inside linebackers Kunaszyk and Evan Weaver and a shutdown secondary. Kunaszyk and Weaver combine to average 13.3 solo tackles per game, which tops all FBS duos, and 23.0 total tackles per game, which leads Power 5 duos.
The two, as well as the rest of the Bears’ defense, will be consistently aware of the whereabouts of receiver Jalen Reagor. The dynamic receiver caught 72 passes for 1,061 receiving yards and nine touchdowns this season and is amid a school-record streak of seven games with a touchdown catch.
Early in the season, Reagor generally lined up as the split end on the offense’s right side, but as injuries mounted (27 season-enders and 40 that caused players to miss multiple games), he’s gotten involved on either side of the center, in the slot and in the backfield.
“He’s very talented. He does it all for them,” Kunaszyk said. “When he gets the ball in his hands, he’s silky. He’s hard to tackle. He’s fast. He’s quick. He has everything. We have great defensive backs, so I’m excited for them to be challenged by going against him.”
Can The Mule deliver once again?
Cal’s defense vs. TCU QB Grayson Muehlstein. The Bears have one of the nation’s best defenses, led by linebackers Evan Weaver and Jordan Kunaszyk. The duo set a school record for combined tackles with 276 and have 8.5 sacks between them. The Horned Frogs will need to find a way to protect Muehlstein, who became the starter in their next-to-last regular-season game after injuries to Shawn Robinson and Mike Collins.
It was a start to finish dub for the Frogs yet again.
Alex Robinson had 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists and TCU withstood a late rally to beat Indiana State 83-69 on Tuesday night in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic.
TCU led 40-30 at halftime behind a balanced scoring attack as nine of the 10 Frogs who played scored. TCU had its first double-digit lead with 3:23 left in the first half and Indiana State wasn’t able to get closer than eight points the rest of the game.