BYU OFFENSE VS. CAL DEFENSE

When the Cougars are playing well, they are capable of moving the ball and putting points on the scoreboard. Quarterback John Beck, running back Curtis Brown and tight end Jonny Harline are potent weapons. However, there have been times this season when the offense has stagnated. The Cougars can't afford committing any turnovers against the Bears, who have already faced a few high-scoring, high-powered offenses this season in USC and Oregon and certainly won't be awed by BYU. Cal boasts a pair of all-Pac-10 performers — defensive lineman Brandon Mebane and cornerback Daymeion Hughes — who could give the Cougar offense problems.

ADVANTAGE: EVEN

CAL OFFENSE VS. BYU DEFENSE

The Bears are on their third quarterback this season as Steve Levy makes his second career start. He's known more for his running than his passing, but, other inexperienced QBs have victimized the Cougars' struggling secondary with the pass. BYU has made opposing quarterbacks look like all-Americans this season. That aside, Cal's strength is its ground game. The Bears boast a pair of top-flight running backs in Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett. Lynch rushed for 1,052 yards and seven touchdowns and Forsett gained 962 yards and scored six touchdowns.

ADVANTAGE: CAL

SPECIAL TEAMS

Statistically, neither team appears to hold a clear edge here. BYU placekicker Jared McLaughlin has been consistent in his field goals and extra points while punter Derek McLaughlin has been inconsistent. The Cougars have had two punts blocked this season, while the Bears have five blocked kicks to their credit. Placekicker Tom Schneider and punter David Lonie have been solid. Cal punt returner Tim Mixon averages 14.9 yards per return and had a 79-yarder this season.

ADVANTAGE: EVEN

INTANGIBLES

Which team is more motivated? It's tough to say. Cal wants to make amends for its embarrassing loss to Texas Tech in last season's Holiday Bowl while BYU hasn't been to a bowl game since 2001. The Bears, under coach Jeff Tedford, have been bowling the previous two years. That appears to give them an advantage over the Cougars as Bronco Mendenhall is experiencing his first bowl as a head coach. Sam Boyd Stadium will have at least 25,000 BYU fans in attendance, which should give the Cougars a decided homefield advantage. But Cal has faced a tougher schedule this season and possesses more team speed and athleticism than BYU.

ADVANTAGE: CAL