Texas rallies past Golden Bears

BERKELEY, Calif. -- California refused to run up the score
or beg for poll votes.

Maybe the Bears should have.

Cal (10-1) was left out of the Bowl Championship Series, denied
one of the eight spots in college football's big-money games
despite a season of statistical superlatives and dominating

The fourth-ranked Golden Bears will be stuck at the Holiday Bowl
while Texas plays in the Rose Bowl.

Cal's Rose Bowl drought reached 46 years despite one of the best
regular seasons in school history.

The Bears felt beaten as they left their team meeting.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers saw confusion and disappointment in his
teammates when they found out their Rose Bowl dreams were replaced
with a trip to San Diego to face Texas Tech.

"It just shows it's a faulty system, and we've got to do
something to change it up," Rodgers said. "I bet Auburn is pretty
ticked, too. ... Nobody cares about West Coast football, I don't
think. I just hope Southern Cal represents us well."

Texas (10-1) surged past the Bears in the final BCS standings
despite Cal's 26-16 road victory over Southern Mississippi on
Saturday night. The Longhorns gained points in both polls, and the
computer rankings kept Texas well in front of Cal. The Longhorns
will face Michigan (9-2) on Jan. 1.

There were dozens of factors in the decision, but the Bears felt
they were superior in almost every venue -- except the political
arena. Rodgers figured Texas coach Mack Brown's pleading for poll
support made a difference, and he was glad Cal coach Jeff Tedford
never did likewise.

"I thought it was a little classless how Coach Brown was
begging for votes after the [Texas A&M] game," Rodgers said. "I
think a team's record and the way you play should speak for itself,
and you shouldn't have to complain about the BCS system. Coach
Tedford isn't going to, although he's frustrated just like we are.
I think we're a bigger team, classier than that."

Tedford was less emotional than Rodgers, but no less
disappointed as he evaluated the Bears' long list of

The only blemish on their record was a six-point loss at
top-ranked USC. They beat 10 teams by an average of 23.9 points per
game. They were the only school in the nation's top six both in
scoring offense and scoring defense.

The Rose Bowl has matched a Big 10 team against a Pac-10 school
for decades, and with the Pac-10 champion Trojans headed to the
Orange Bowl, Cal hoped to end the conference's longest Rose Bowl
drought. Instead, there will be burnt orange in the Pasadena

"I just feel terrible for the alumni and the fans who have
waited so long for this," Tedford said. "As a program, we were
set on the Rose Bowl. I felt like we did enough to earn that."

Most of the Bears still were jet-lagged and exhausted after
grinding out a victory in Hattiesburg just 18 hours earlier in a
game postponed from Sept. 16 by Hurricane Ivan. The late-season
road trip provided a national television audience -- but when the
Golden Eagles were difficult to put away, it might have swayed some
voters away.

And that was baffling to Tedford, who refused to try to score
one last touchdown in the waning seconds to pad the score. The
Bears also were hurt by a questionable clipping call in the closing
minutes, which negated a touchdown run by J.J. Arrington.

Normally, Tedford wouldn't spare a second's thought on such
issues -- but in the BCS world, it might have made a difference.

"If yesterday's game was the game that turned anybody's head,
then that's sad, because it's about a season," Tedford said.
"We're going to keep our same philosophy. It's hard enough just to
win games."