Cal Football: Bears Will Face Illinois in Redbox Bowl -- It's Official

Illinois running back Reggie Corbin rushed for more than 1,200 yards in 2018.Photo by Patrick Gorski - USA TODAY Sports

Jake Curtis

There had been uncertainty leading up to the bowl selections on Sunday, but ultimately Cal wound up in the bowl most people expected the Bears to be in.

Cal announced Sunday afternoon that it will play Big Ten team Illinois in the Dec. 30 Redbox Bowl in Santa Clara. Game time for that Monday game at Levi's Stadium is 1 p.m. Pacific time.

(Click here for a video of coach Justin Wilcox's reaction to playing Illinois in the Redbox Bowl.)

The Bears (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) will play in a bowl game for the second straight year, but they will not have to travel nearly as far as they did last year when they played in the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix. 

The Bears would also like a different result from last year, when they suffered a 17-7 loss to TCU. Cal quarterback Chase Garbers hopes for a different individual performance, as he threw three first-half interceptions against the Horned Frogs and was pulled from the game at halftime.ox Bowl this season:

Garbers talks about last year's Cheez-It Bowl after learning Cal will be in the Redbox Bowl.

In Illinois, the Bears will face a team that went 6-6 overall and 4-5 in the Big Ten. 

The Fighting Illini are coached by former NFL head coach Lovie Smith, and Illinois has one outstanding win on its resume: The Illini beat Wisconsin 24-23 on Oct. 19 when the Badgers were 6-0 and ranked No. 6. But Illinois also lost to Eastern Michigan and was handled easily by Minnesota (40-17) and Michigan (42-25). Illinois' second-best result was probably its 19-10 loss at Iowa.

Illinois running back Patrick Corbin was a third-team all-Big Ten selection. The Illini are 12th in the 14-team Big Ten in total offense and 11th in total defense

Cal won its final two regular-season games, both on the road, against Stanford and UCLA, so it should be feeling good about itself. The Bears also have their first-string quarterback, Chase Garbers, back, and the Bears are 6-0 when he plays more than one half.

It was an uneven season for Cal, partly because of the injury to Garbers. The Bears won their first four games and were ranked No. 15 in the country. But they then lost four in row before finishing with wins in three of their last four games.

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Johnny Football
Johnny Football

Back the Pac! Should be a fun game and hopefully give them momentum going into next year