Cal Football: Justin Wilcox Reacts to News that Bears Will Face Illinois at Redbox Bowl

Jeff Faraudo

Cal coach Justin Wilcox said Sunday the Bears' invitation to the Redbox Bowl is something the program should expect on a regular basis.

The Bears will face Illinois of the Big Ten Conference on Jan. 30 at Levi's Stadium. This will be Cal's second straight bowl appearance after a four-year hiatus, and it marks the first time since 2008 and '09 the program will play in a bowl game in back-to-back seasons.

"It's great for our program in a lot of ways, and we need to expect to be going to bowl games," said Wilcox, in his third season as Cal's coach. "I'm just proud of how the team finished the season, enabled us to be in this position to get in the Redbox Bowl."

(Click here for a story of Cal's bid to the Redbox Bowl and a video of Chase Garbers talking about his poor performance in last year's Cheez-It Bowl.)

Cal (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) beat Stanford to break a nine-year drought in the Big Game, then knocked off UCLA at the Rose Bowl to take a two-game win streak into the Redbox Bowl.

"Towards the end of the season we started playing some pretty good football on both sides of the ball," Wilcox said. "I think we've still got a lot of room to get better and I think the players would agree."

Players will get time off until the first practice on Friday. Wilcox said he's eager to see if players who have been injured, including wide receiver Kekoa Crawford, might become heathy enough to face Illinois.

Either way, just an extra few weeks will give the Bears time to rejuvenated and to give practice reps to young players.