No. 4 Cal upset in Holiday Bowl

Friday, December 31st 2004, 6:43 am
By: News On 6

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Mack Brown and the BCS have been exonerated by the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Stunned at getting knocked out of the Rose Bowl by the Texas Longhorns, the No. 4 California Golden Bears couldn't even hang with No. 23 Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl, losing 45-31 on Thursday night.

Cal coach Jeff Tedford said there was no connection between the snub and the drubbing.

``We didn't lose the game because we didn't go to the Rose Bowl,'' Tedford said. ``It had nothing to do with focus and preparation because we didn't go to the Rose Bowl.

``Once and for all, please, it has nothing to do with it. It is not going to set our program back.''

In that case, it looks as if Brown isn't such a villain, after all.

Cal had been in position to go to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 46 seasons, but was leapfrogged in the final Bowl Championship Series standings by Brown's Texas Longhorns, who ended up in Pasadena to face Michigan on Saturday.

The day the BCS pairings were released, Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Brown ``was a little classless'' for begging for poll votes to help his Longhorns, and that the system was ``faulty.'' Tedford said votes in the coaches' poll should be made public.

The Longhorns, by the way, beat Texas Tech 51-21 at Lubbock on Oct. 23.

Texas Tech fans mocked Cal with chants of ``Overrated!'' in the closing minutes.

The Golden Bears (10-2), who were 11 1/2-point favorites, simply had no answer against the Red Raiders (8-4) and their efficient spread offense, which uses four wide receivers most of the time.

Tech senior Sonny Cumbie threw for a career-high 520 yards and three touchdowns, including a 60-yarder to Joel Filani. Safety Vincent Meeks set up a score with a 48-yard interception return.

Cumbie was 39-of-60 and broke the Holiday Bowl attempts record of 59 set by BYU's Ty Detmer in 1989. He was short of Detmer's Holiday Bowl record of 576 yards, also set in 1989.

``We have a great band of players around me,'' Cumbie said. ``And so throwing the ball to them makes things happen. I knew we could have a big night if we executed real well.''

Cumbie said opponents can practice all they want, ``But our receivers are too fast, our offensive linemen are too good. You can't simulate how good our offense is in three weeks of practice.''

Cal's J.J. Arrington became just the third running back in Pac-10 history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. The senior from Nashville, N.C., carried 25 times for 173 yards, for 2,018 yards.

Southern Cal's Marcus Allen had 2,427 yards in 1981, and Charles White had 2,050 in 1979. Both won the Heisman Trophy.

Arrington scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter, his 15th rushing TD of the season, a school record. He had been tied with Lindsey Chapman and Russell White.

The Golden Bears were undisciplined on defense _ they had two personal fouls on one Tech drive _ and Rodgers looked confused at times. California was without career receptions leader Geoff McArthur, who broke his left leg in the fourth quarter of a 26-16 win at Southern Mississippi on Dec. 4.

``We thought we had a good game plan for them,'' Arrington said. ``We didn't underestimate them at all. We worked hard like we did every other week for anybody else.''

Cal's only other loss was to No. 1 USC, 23-17 on Oct. 9.

Texas Tech (8-4) had four scoring drives that took less than two minutes each. Trailing 14-7 after the first quarter, the Red Raiders scored 24 straight points and had a commanding 31-14 lead by early in the third quarter.

Cumbie threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jarrett Hicks for a 17-14 lead with 8:57 left before halftime. The short drive was set up by Meeks' interception return.

Tech piled it on with Taurean Henderson's 2-yard run late in the second quarter and Cumbie's 60-yard scoring pass to Filani on the opening drive of the second half for a 17-point lead. Filani caught the ball at the Cal 40 and raced past cornerback Daymeion Hughes into the end zone.

Hicks also had a 9-yard TD catch in the first quarter.

Rodgers threw an 11-yard TD pass to Garrett Cross and scored on a 1-yard sneak, both in the fourth quarter. Rodgers was 24-of-42 for 246 yards, with one interception.