San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

California (8-4) vs. Utah (9-3)

Dec. 23, 8 p.m., (ESPN)

A bowl win is a great way to send a what-could-have-been season off in a positive way, which is what you have with California's matchup against Utah in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

These are two teams that probably think they are pretty good, but that failed to win the big games.

Utah played three ranked teams and lost to them all -- Oregon, TCU and BYU.

California played well at times, but when it lost, it really lost, going down by 39, 27, 17 and 32 points this season.

It's unclear whether the Bears will have the services of running back Jahvid Best, who spent the early part of the season as a leading Heisman Trophy candidate. He suffered a concussion against Oregon State on Nov. 7 and hasn't played since, in large part because of a back problem brought on by the fall that knocked him out.

Utah is good on defense, particularly against the pass, and fair to middling on offense. The Utes switched from Terrance Cain to freshman Jordan Wynn at quarterback, and that seemed like a good move until Wynn struggled in the finale against BYU.

Cal's defense showed signs of life late in the season until Washington quarterback Jake Locker tore it apart on Saturday, just as it appeared that junior quarterback Kevin Riley had turned a corner before a mediocre effort in Husky Stadium.