Expert Cappers Picks
College Football
Preview
California vs Texas Christian
When: 9:00 PM ET, Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Where: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona



CHEEZ-IT BOWL STORYLINES

1. Defense figures to take center stage when California and TCU meet in the Cheez-It Bowl at Chase Field in Phoenix on Dec. 26. Cal is allowing only 21.3 points per game under defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, while TCU is close behind at 24.4. The Horned Frogs are 6-0 against Pac-12 opponents under coach Gary Patterson, including a 39-37 victory over Stanford in last year’s Alamo Bowl.

2. Linebackers Evan Weaver and Jordan Kunaszyk have a combined 275 tackles for Cal, which won four of five before losing 23-13 to Stanford in the Big Game on Dec. 1. The Bears opened Pac-12 play with three straight losses but later recorded signature wins over Washington (12-10) and USC (15-14) before securing a bowl berth for the second time in seven years. Kunaszyk received first team All-Pac-12 honors after recording 11 tackles for loss, four sacks and five forced fumbles.

3. TCU dropped five of its first eight games but finished by winning three of its last four, including a 31-24 home win over Oklahoma State in the season finale on Nov. 24. The Horned Frogs held opponents to an average of 344.4 yards and have been especially tough against the pass, allowing 202.6 yards. The team boasts two of the top defensive ends in the country in first team All-Big 12 selections Ben Banogu and L.J. Collier, who combined for 12.5 sacks.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Pick

ABOUT CAL (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12): The Bears had the worst passing offense in the Pac-12 with an average of 188.1 yards per game, but running back Patrick Laird rushed for 932 yards and five touchdowns and will be asked to carry a heavy load against the Horned Frogs. The defense is led by Kunaszyk and Weaver, a second team All-Pac-12 selection who had nine tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and two interceptions. Cal’s impressive special teams unit features several standouts, including punter Steven Coutts and kick returner Ashtyn Davis (26.1 yards per kickoff return).

ABOUT TCU (6-6, 4-5 Big 12): The Horned Frogs won three games scoring 17 points or fewer (Iowa State, Kansas State and Baylor) and finished seventh in Big 12 in passing offense (226.8) with third-string quarterback Grayson Muehlstein taking over late in the season. Five players earned second team All-Big 12 honors, including safety Ridwan Issahaku, offensive tackle Lucas Niang, wide receiver Jalen Reagor and cornerback Jeff Gladney (one interception, 13 breakups). Reagor has caught a touchdown pass in seven consecutive games and finished the regular season with a team-high 72 receptions for 1,061 yards and nine scores.



PREDICTION: TCU 21, Cal 17
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
California 7-5 L1 22.8 21.2 4-3 3-2 2-1 0-0 4-5
Texas Christian 6-6 W2 24.7 24.4 4-3 2-3 5-2 0-0 4-5
Last Meeting
California Texas Christian
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
No previous meeting.
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
California N/A
Texas Christian N/A
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
California N/A
Texas Christian N/A
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
California N/A
Texas Christian N/A
Touchdowns Player TD
California N/A
Texas Christian N/A
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
California C. Garbers 61.0 1418 14 7
Texas Christian S. Robinson 60.6 1326 9 8
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
California P. Laird 217 935 4.3 5
Texas Christian D. Anderson 124 598 4.8 3
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
California V. Wharton III 50 502 10.0 1
Texas Christian J. Reagor 71 1053 14.8 9
Touchdowns Player TD
California P. Laird 9
Texas Christian J. Reagor 11
Quickchart Matchup
California California Off vs  Texas Christian Texas Christian Def
California 350.2 yards
Texas Christian 344.4 yards
California 4.3 yards/rush
Texas Christian 3.6 yards/rush
California 5.8 yards/attempt
Texas Christian 6.5 yards/attempt
Texas Christian Texas Christian Off vs  California California Def
Texas Christian 374.6 yards
California 319.4 yards
Texas Christian 4.1 yards/rush
California 3.5 yards/rush
Texas Christian 7 yards/attempt
California 6.1 yards/attempt