Cal Football Notes: Cheez-It Bowl Point Spread; Three Bears Named All-Academic

Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea - USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus honors Ashtyn Davis & Evan Weaver on eve of All-Pac-12 selections


Cal will face TCU in the Cheez-It Bowl, and a few football notes deserve mention:

--Cal running back Patrick Laird was not named the winner of the Burlsworth Trophy, which went to a Clemson player on Monday, but he was one of three Cal players named to the Pac-12 all-academic squad.

The Burlsworth Trophy is awarded to the nation’s top player who began his career as a walk-on. Laird was one of three finalists for the award, along with Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow and Maryland safety Marcus Epps.

The winner was Renfrow, who no doubt was aided by the fact that he plays for the nation's No. 2-ranked team. He ranks fourth on the team with 43 catches for 472 yards and one touchdown this season. He is best remembered for being on the receiving end of Deshaun Watson‘s game-winning touchdown pass to beat Alabama in the 2017 CFP national championship game.

--Laird (Business Administration/Political Science Double Major, 3.58 GPA), offensive linemen Michael Saffell (Undeclared, 3.54 GPA) andpunter Steven Coutts (Education (Master’s), 3.62 GPA) were the three Cal players who earned first-team Pac-12 all-academic honors.

Laird is a two-time first-team selection, and also earned a second-team spot in 2016.

Offensive lineman Jake Curhan (Undeclared, 3.41 GPA) was a second-team selection. Receiving honorable mention were defensive lineman Siulagisipai Fuimaono (Undeclared, 3.18 GPA), quarterback Chase Garbers (Undeclared, 3.29), offensive lineman Ryan Gibson (Political Science, 3.01 GPA), kicker Chris Landgrebe (Industrial Engineering, 3.03 GPA), tight end Malik McMorris (American Studies, 3.09 GPA), defensive end Chinedu Udeogu (Undeclared, 3.02 GPA) and wide receiver Ricky Walker III (Undeclared, 3.24 GPA).

The all-conference team will be announced Tuesday at 5 p.m., live on the Pac-12 Networks.

--Pro Football Focus unveiled its All-Pac-12 teams and named Ashtyn Davis to the first team at both safety and kick return specialist. Linebacker Evan Weaver also was a first-team pick.

Offensive tackle Patrick Mekari and cornerback Camryn Bynum both were second-team selections. Bypassed by PFF was linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk.

--And now the information you have all been waiting for, the point spread for the Cheez-It Bowl between Cal and TCU on Dec. 26 in Phoenix:

TCU opened as a two-point favorite, but by Monday afternoon the spread had changed to pick-'em (no favorite). That means some money was coming in on the Bears, and if that trend continues, Cal might be favored by the time the game is played. Of course, the point spread has no impact on the outcome.

The over-under on the Cheez-It Bowl is 40.5 points, which reflects the fact that both teams are defense-oriented. It is the lowest over-under of any bowl game, with no other bowl matchup having an over-under that is fewer than 44.5 points. Three postseason games, including the Alabama-Oklahoma national semifinal, have over-unders greater than 70 points.