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Bowl Destination: Redbox vs. Illinois

December 8, 2019
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As was anticipated from almost the instant the team became bowl eligible Cal will be playing in the Redbox Bowl at Levi’s Stadium on Dec. 30.

The opponent for the 1 p.m. kickoff will be Illinois of the Big Ten as all the bowl matchups were announced Sunday. 

The Bears (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) will be playing in a bowl game for the second straight year, having lost to Texas Christian in the Cheez-It Bowl last season.

The Illini (6-6, 4-5 Big Ten), have some impressive wins this year including one over conference runner-up Wisconsin that started a four-game win streak.

“I think it’s great for our program in a lot of ways,” head coach Justin Wilcox said after the announcement. “We expect to be going to bowl games. I am just proud of how our team finished the season and how it enabled us to be in this position. To get into the Redbox Bowl and all our fans locally being able to come and support us and play an opponent like Illinois.”

The players also seemed pleased to be staying close to home.

“It is basically another home game,” linebacker Evan Weaver said. “Great environment, great for the Cal program. Back to back bowl games to finish up my career is wonderful.”

Said tackle Jake Curhan: “It is exciting stuff, we get to stay locally and get all of our fans to come out. I’m excited. I’m from the area I will have a lot of friends and family.”

Although most bowl handicappers had the Bears in the Redbox against either Illinois or Iowa, Wilcox said he hasn’t spent a any time yet looking at the Illini. He said there were too many scenarios that involved too many teams.

“I know Coach (Lovie) Smith is a heckuva coach,” Wilcox said. “I know they have done a great job this year, had some big wins, come a long way in the last few years. He is obviously an exceptional coach and it’s a storied program. It is going to be a great matchup,”

Speaking of matchups, the nation’s two leading tacklers will be on the field. Weaver is tops with 173, 26 ahead of Illinois’ Dele Harding.

One benefit of bowl participation is two weeks' worth of extra practices. The Bears, who willl retake the field for the first time Friday, used a portion of the sessions last year to give work to their less experienced players. Wilcox said they will do so again.

“We will get almost a spring ball’s worth of practice and a good portion of that will be developmental,” Wilcox said. “The Evan Weavers, Jake Curhans, Cam Bynums they will practice But there will be periods set aside for guys who either didn’t play this year or had limited reps Every time they go out there on the field and practice they have a chance to get better.

“It also allows us to train throughout December and train our bodies. This allows us for  kind of a quicker acclimation in January when we come back because we haven’t been off for a month and a half.”

It also gives Cal’s injured players more time to heal. Wilcox had no word on their condition on Sunday, but said, “We are hopeful. You would think so,” Wilcox said. “But the doctors and trainers have to clear them.

Both Cal and Illinois have played in this bowl game but did so when it was held in San Francisco. The Bears defeated Miami, 24-17, in the 2008 Emerald Bowl. Illinois won the 2011 Fight Hunger Bowl. 

Illinois leads the all-time series, 7-3, but the Bears have won the last two meetings, 31-24 in Champaign, Ill., in 2003 and 35-20 in Berkeley in 2005.

Discussion from...

Bowl Destination: Redbox vs. Illinois

5,002 Views | 29 Replies | Last: 4 mo ago by XXXBEAR
Uthaithani
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Looks like an interesting matchup. Good to see
Cal facing a P5 opponent. Go Bears!
Sebastabear
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Yup. Saw this one coming. Should be a good home field advantage for us
eabandit
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Do we know where the band will be sitting in the stadium? I'd like to buy tickets that offer both good views and good proximity to the band.
Goobear
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Got flight booked, hotel booked, club level seats...all done
BearinOC
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Won't be going to no Bay Area. Would have gone anywhere else.
calgo430
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illinois ranked well below us. hopeful this will not be a repeat of the cheeze it bowl. that sure was a stinker.
JimSox
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BearinOC said:

Won't be going to no Bay Area. Would have gone anywhere else.


Ok if that's how you feel.
Northside91
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BearinOC said:

Won't be going to no Bay Area. Would have gone anywhere else.

Does the geography have anything to do with the game? I went to the Emerald Bowl in SF and managed to have a nice time. The Utah game in SD? Not so much.
calumnus
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Uthaithani said:

Looks like an interesting matchup. Good to see
Cal facing a P5 opponent. Go Bears!


Yes, this is a good result for us. Should have a good crowd. Afternoon game in Santa Clara. P5 opponent but very winnable.

Go Bears!
Chabbear
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1pm game!
calumnus
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Chabbear said:

1pm game!


If sunny should be very nice.
oskirules
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BearinOC
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Yes it does. I would have rather gone to the Sun, Vegas or SD. South Bay does not interest me one bit. My wife and I like to pick a destination for a week and explore. Nothing to explore there anymore.
oskirules
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BearinOC said:

Yes it does. I would have rather gone to the Sun, Vegas or SD. South Bay does not interest me one bit. My wife and I like to pick a destination for a week and explore. Nothing to explore there anymore.
It depends, I lived there for a year and was surprised to find many hiking trails and charming smaller neighborhoods. But yes, the corporate sprawl around the stadium itself isn't appealing for travelers.
ducky23
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BearinOC said:

Yes it does. I would have rather gone to the Sun, Vegas or SD. South Bay does not interest me one bit. My wife and I like to pick a destination for a week and explore. Nothing to explore there anymore.


Even if you don't like the city, there's still Napa, Monterey etc
Sebastabear
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Cal opens as a 6.5 point favorite. Will be interesting to see how this moves. I watched some of Illinois' games this year. With Garbers Cal is definitely better on both sides of the ball. Interestingly Illinois has a linebacker who has the second most tackles in FBS behind Weaver (and he's 26 back). But Wilcox has to have the team up for this one. I think he will.
oskirules
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Illinois fans seem happy about the locale and match up.

https://www.illinoisloyalty.com/Forum/illini-football/
BearinOC
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I lived on the Fort Ross campgrounds for 2 months and explored all there is to explore near that area. Also, I haven't drunk in 334 days and counting. I quit cold turkey including not smoking.

I was hoping for Vegas or El Paso. I know it's El Paso but never been there before.
Cave Bear
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Good draw for us. Fair matchup vs a P5 team and in our own backyard
510 Bear
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LOVE Wilcox and our players actually saying positive things about the bowl and matchup (instead of just the generic "we're happy to keep playing and improving" tripe).

Other than not apologizing to fans whose travel plans were ruined, I've got faith from this (admittedly imperfect) signal that our team will rise to the occasion and not give us 2018 Cheez-It Bowl II.
LunchTime
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calgo430 said:

illinois ranked well below us. hopeful this will not be a repeat of the cheeze it bowl. that sure was a stinker.
what happened in that bowl?
BearinOC
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LunchTime said:

calgo430 said:

illinois ranked well below us. hopeful this will not be a repeat of the cheeze it bowl. that sure was a stinker.
what happened in that bowl?
lol
LunchTime
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BearinOC said:

Yes it does. I would have rather gone to the Sun, Vegas or SD. South Bay does not interest me one bit. My wife and I like to pick a destination for a week and explore. Nothing to explore there anymore.


I am torn. Your not wrong but you come off so... dour. I work a few miles from Levi's. My grandparents live practically next door. It's a prime location for spending time with my family watching Cal play in a bowl, and I still think the location sucks. I feel your opinion and the pushback.

Edit, it's at Levi's right? Have I lost my way?
UrsineMaximus
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BearinOC said:

Won't be going to no Bay Area. Would have gone anywhere else.
Seems like your handle fits!!
UrsineMaximus
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oskirules said:

Illinois fans seem happy about the locale and match up.

https://www.illinoisloyalty.com/Forum/illini-football/
I would be as well if I lived in Illinois or a neighboring State during that time of year!! Plus they want to experience rubbing shoulders with commies and liberals.
UrsineMaximus
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510 Bear said:

LOVE Wilcox and our players actually saying positive things about the bowl and matchup (instead of just the generic "we're happy to keep playing and improving" tripe).

Other than not apologizing to fans whose travel plans were ruined, I've got faith from this (admittedly imperfect) signal that our team will rise to the occasion and not give us 2018 Cheez-It Bowl II.
Lots of peeps don't seem to appreciate how important a bowl game is to recruits and what a 8 - 5 record does to the following (2021) recruiting class. With early signing period, this year's record makes the difference for 2021 recruits, not next year's start, middle or finish.....hell by the middle, of next year, most recruits will have committed. This bowl game and win is YUGE!!
BearinOC
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UrsineMaximus said:

BearinOC said:

Won't be going to no Bay Area. Would have gone anywhere else.
Seems like your handle fits!!
'cause been there many times and spent 4 years there, silly.
pasadenaorbust
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Would have been nice to take on a more vunerable Florida State team in the Sun Bowl and beat them,
but oh, well...Illinois it is.
XXXBEAR
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So what do the players get? Here's what they got last year.

  • Red Box Bowl (Michigan State vs. Oregon): Fossil watch; Timbuktu backpack; Roku; headphones; Redbox Bowl merchandise
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