BERKELEY, Calif. — California accepted an invitation to the Emerald Bowl on Saturday, committing to finish the season across San Francisco Bay against an ACC opponent likely to be the Miami Hurricanes.
The Golden Bears (8-4, 6-3 Pac-10) got confirmation of their bowl destination about 90 minutes after finishing the regular season with a 48-7 victory over winless Washington. After a fourth-place conference finish, Cal is headed to its school-record sixth straight bowl game under coach Jeff Tedford.
“It’s going to be exciting to be close to home,” said tailback Jahvid Best, who rushed for a school-record 311 yards and four touchdowns against the Huskies. “We’ll have a lot of good fans there, and hopefully it will feel like a home game.”
Gary Cavalli, the executive director of the bowl at San Francisco’s waterfront baseball park, was overjoyed to have a local team in the Dec. 27 game for the first time in its seven-year history. The bowl matches a Pac-10 team against an ACC school, following Cavalli’s belief that most bowls should be cross-sectional games between teams that don’t know each other well.
“I think it’s going to be great to have a local team in it,” Cavalli said. “The last two years, we’ve been on the map with good matchups, (but) I think this matchup will be very appealing to a national audience.”
Cavalli said he isn’t allowed to confirm Cal’s opponent until Sunday, but “it’s very likely that it’ll be Miami,” he said. “We’ll make it official (Sunday).”
Miami (7-5, 4-4 ACC) finished its regular season with back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina State, knocking the young Hurricanes out of the conference title chase. Miami’s recent struggles don’t matter to the Emerald Bowl, which has thrived in recent years by showcasing less-than-perfect teams from marquee institutions such as Florida State, UCLA and Virginia Tech.
“Miami is one of the all-time great programs,” Cavalli said. “It’s a name that everybody recognizes. Any time you can get teams that have won national championships, it’s a good thing for your bowl.”