Cal's season began with grand ambitions, three consecutive wins and one heady week at No. 6 in the national rankings. It ended in a half-empty stadium two nights before Christmas, with another in a curious collection of desultory losses. The Bears jumped ahead early in Wednesday night's Poinsettia Bowl, played dreadfully for a long stretch and fell 37-27 to Utah. The Utes won their ninth consecutive bowl game, the longest active streak in the nation, while Cal lost a bowl game for the first time since 2004. In some ways, it was a fitting end to the Bears' utterly strange season. They put together little sustained offense - quarterback Kevin Riley faced heavy pressure, threw two interceptions, fumbled once and seemed indecisive all night - and the defense struggled to contain Utah's...

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