Chase Garbers earned MVP honors after passing for 272 yards and four touchdowns as Cal (8-5) pulled away from Illinois (6-7), 35-20, Monday in the Redbox Bowl. The Redbox Bowl victory was Cal’s first bowl win since the 2015 Armed Forces Bowl.
The first touchdown thrown by Garbers gave Cal a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. His only touchdown run on Cal’s next possession re-gained the lead for the Bears, and his second touchdown pass late in the first half lifted Cal to a 21-10 lead. Cal never really had much reason to check the rearview mirror after that.
Garbers added two more red zone touchdown passes to provide a solid cushion against the Illini, who still have plenty of reasons to be satisfied with their 2020 season despite taking a loss in the final game of their season. Illinois just did not play as clean and efficient game as Cal and it cost them. Illinois had the only turnover of the game, although the defense made up for it by forcing a three-and-out and a punt.
Cal defensive standout Evan Weaver also made some history in the game. Weaver set a new Pac-12 single-season record for most tackles, bringing his season total to 182 tackles in 2019.
Tackling machine. 🤖
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) December 31, 2019
The Big Ten and Pac-12 have now split their first two bowl meetings this season, which means the Rose Bowl will determine a bowl season winner between the two conferences. Wisconsin will face Oregon on New Years Day. Iowa defeated USC in the Holiday Bowl. The Big Ten is now 3-2 this bowl season, and the Pac-12 evens its bowl record at 2-2.
Cal will kick off the 2020 season in Las Vegas on Aug. 29, 2020 with a game against UNLV in the brand new Allegiant Stadium, the new home to UNLV and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders (soon to be the Las Vegas Raiders). Cal will continue to be a team nobody in the Pac-12 will want to play next season with a young nucleus set to return next year.
Illinois will open its 2002 campaign at home against Illinois State. Hopes of getting to a second consecutive bowl game could be lifted early with a favorable home schedule to start the season (UConn and Bowling Green). Illinois is on track to return up to 16 starters next season and Lovie Smith has done a decent job filling out the roster where needed. Expect to see Illinois in a bowl game again in 2020.