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Poinsettia Bowl Odds Preview

Utah will be going for its 9th straight bowl win facing California in the Poinsettia Bowl, but Cal has a solid offense and that is the main reason they are favored by three points in this game.

Utah Utes vs. California Golden Bears -3 O/U 52.5 at Bovada

8 PM EST Wednesday December 23, 2009 on ESPN Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego California

Utah was 9-3 this season and did lose two of their last 3 games, but both of those losses were against teams ranked in the top 25 (TCU and BYU).

They also do not play in as tough as a conference as Cal does, which may be the main reason Poinsettia Bowl odds makers has them as the 3 point underdog in this game. Utah will be going for their 9th straight bowl win.

Cal beat two ranked teams in a row (Arizona and Stanford), but lost their last game of the season to Washington, which hurt their chances of playing closer to the New Year. RB Jahvid Best will not play, following a fall and concussion earlier this month. The Bears are solid on offense, especially if Best plays, which is why odds makers at Bovada has them as 3 point favorites in this game.

Utah (9-3 5-7 ATS) was ranked in the top 25 for, I think, the entire season, but they were 0-3 this season against teams that ended the season ranked. Utah's strength is their defense, which ranks 20th in the nation and they are much stronger at defending the pass, ranked 14th, than defending the run, ranked 57th. The Utes are hoping Best does not play in this game or is not at his best, ha ha.

California (8-4 5-6 ATS) was 2-1 against ranked teams this season, but did lose to Oregon and Oregon State, who were not ranked at the time, but ended the season in the top 25. Cal has a legit offense ranked 46th in the nation and if Best can play it will give them a huge boost. The Cal D is ranked 70th in the nation and while they rank a respectable 27th in defending the run they only rank 108th in defending the pass.

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Utah has the 54th ranked offense and while their big weapon is RB Eddie Wide (1,032 yds 12 TD), who averaged 5.7 yards per carry this season, QB Jordan Wynn may be the main focus since the Cal secondary is suspect to say the least. Wynn is a freshman and took over as the starter in the middle of the season and even though the passing offense is not Utah's strength Wynn does have a big play WR in David Reed (75 rec 1,085 yds 5 TD).

Cal has a solid offense and they are well balanced with QB Kevin Riley (2,636 yds 17 TD 6 INT) and Best. Again, if Best can't go it will be a big blow to the Bears since Utah's run defense is their Achilles Heel. Riley does have a couple of legit targets in WR's Marvin Jones and Verran Tucker, who each averaged over 16 yards per reception this season.

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Poinsettia Bowl History

In last year's Poinsettia Bowl it was a close defensive battle and TCU edged Boise State in the game 17-16.

Boise State was favored by 3.5 points in last year's Poinsettia Bowl so the Horned Frogs covered the spread with the minor upset. The posted total of the game of 46 was not reached since the game was a defensive battle.

Poinsettia Bowl History

2005 Poinsettia Bowl 12/22/2005 Navy 51 Colorado State 30 NAVY 3
2006 Poinsettia Bowl 12/19/2006 N Ill. 7 TCU 37 TCU -12.5
2007 Poinsettia Bowl 12/20/2007 Navy 32 Utah 35 UTAH -9
2008 Poinsettia Bowl 12/23/2008 TCU 17 Boise State 16 TCU 3.5