Cal Bears Will Face Air Force in Armed Forces Bowl


The California Golden Bears and head coach Sonny Dykes are going Bowling for this first time as a pair.

After a long day of waiting, the California Golden Bears‘ Bowl destination is known. After being projected for the Las Vegas Bowl, the Cactus Bowl, and the Heart of Dallas Bowl, the Cal Bears are heading to the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl to take on the Air Force Fighting Falcons. The game will take place on December 29th, in Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Bears are in a Bowl game for the first time since 2011, and for the first time under head coach Sonny Dykes. After winning just six games in the first two years under Dykes, the Bears went 7-5 in the 2015 regular season. They started the year with five consecutive wins, but followed that up with a four-game losing streak. The Bears did end the regular season on a high note, as they completed a 21-point comeback to beat the Arizona State Sun Devils on a last-second field goal.

Record-breaking junior quarterback Jared Goff will partake in his first Bowl game, and it will quite possibly be his last game as a college player. After breaking his own school records in 2015 with 4,247 passing yards (the first 4,000-yard passing season in school history) and 37 touchdowns, Goff is a likely candidate to take his talents to the next level and enter the NFL draft.

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The Fighting Falcons were 8-4 in the regular season, but lost to the San Diego State Aztecs in the Mountain West Conference Championship Game to fall to 8-5. Running the triple-option that is so popular amongst the military teams, Air Force owns the third-best rushing attack in the nation, piling up more than 320 yards per game on the ground. Their leading rusher is Jacobi Owens, who has gained 1,013 rushing yards on the year, and the team has six other players with at least 300 yards on the ground. Senior quarterback Karson Roberts and sophomore running back Timothy McVey share the team’s lead with nine touchdowns each.

The Bears will have their work cut out for them against Air Force, as their run defense is ranked 102nd in the nation, allowing over 200 yards per game rushing. Cal allowed over 250 yards on the ground four times, and were out-rushed seven times.

Air Force will be competing in their fifth Armed Forces Bowl, and have just one win in their previous four appearances. Their victory came in 2009 against the Houston Cougars. The Bears are in their second Armed Forces Bowl, and it will be a rematch of the 2007 rendition, when Cal and Air Force also met.

In 2007, the Fighting Falcons wasted no time jumping out to a big lead, as they held a 21-0 advantage over the Bears just 18 minutes into the game. The Bears bounced back, scoring two touchdowns before the end of the first half, both coming on throws from quarterback Kevin Riley (one to Desean Jackson and one to Lavelle Hawkins). After the break, Riley would throw another touchdown, and running back Justin Forsett would run for two, the second giving the Bears a lead in the fourth quarter. Riley’s touchdown scamper late in the game would put a stamp on the game, which Cal would eventually win 42-36.

Next: Pac-12 All-Conference Teams Announced

In other Pac-12 Bowl news:

Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Iowa

Alamo Bowl: Oregon vs. TCU

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Sun Bowl: Washington St. vs. Miami

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Washington vs. Southern Mississippi

Foster Farms Bowl: UCLA vs. Nebraska

Las Vegas Bowl: Utah vs. BYU

Cactus Bowl: Arizona St. vs. West Virginia

New Mexico Bowl: Arizona vs. New Mexico