SAN DIEGO -- So efficient the final four games of the regular season, Cal coughed up five turnovers Wednesday night and never gave itself a chance in a 21-10 loss to Texas at the Holiday Bowl.
The Bears defense stuffed the Longhorns for much of the first half, but the giveaways were too much to overcome before a crowd of 56,313 at Qualcomm Stadium.
"We gave too many things away today," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "We had our chances, and we gave the ball away."
The best and last of those chances came late in the third quarter with the Bears down 14-10. Old Blues no doubt relished the expectation they might exact some revenge seven years after Texas and coach Mack Brown outmaneuvered the Bears for a Rose Bowl berth.
The Bears (7-6) pinned the Longhorns (8-5) at their own 10-yard line after a punt and unnecessary roughness penalty against Texas. Trevor Guyton then sacked David Ash to the 1-yard line, and two plays later Texas was forced to punt.
Marvin Jones took the kick at the Texas 43 and returned it 16 yards to the 27.
"Right then I felt like we were in pretty good shape," Tedford said.
But right then, everything fell apart for the Bears.
An incomplete pass and a 2-yard loss on a running play, coupled with a dead ball personal foul penalty on tight end Anthony Miller, shoved the Bears back to the Texas 44.
On third-and-27, Zach Maynard was sacked and fumbled, with Chris Whaley recovering for the Longhorns
Three plays, and Cal had lost 29 yards and possession.
Three Texas plays later, it was 21-10.
Wideout and Olympic long-jump hopeful Marquise Goodwin dashed 37 yards to the 7, and on the first snap of the fourth quarter, 5-foot-11, 252-pound Cody Johnson powered in from the 4.
"We shot ourselves in the foot a lot tonight, and this was the end result," senior wideout Jones said.
Cal, which turned the ball over just twice while winning three of its final four games, never threatened again.
In their return to the postseason after failing to qualify for a bowl in 2010, the Bears led 3-0 when Giorgio Tavecchio kicked a 47-yard field goal to cap their first possession.
But the Bears showed only sporadic offensive spark the rest of the night. Tailback Isi Sofele, who averaged 143 rushing yards the final four games, was held to 52 on 20 attempts.
Keenan Allen (nine catches for 82 yards) and Jones (eight for 88) combined for 170 of the Bears' season-low 195 total yards. The Bears netted just seven rushing yards.
"It was a constant war out there," said Maynard, who was sacked a season-high six times.
"Zach was under heat pretty much all day," Tedford said. "They beat us up front."
Still, the tipping point was a 5-0 deficit in the turnover category.
Jones fumbled after a reception, Maynard threw an interception and lost two fumbles, and Sofele fumbled once.
Texas, which had lost three of its final four games, did not turn the ball over.
Stymied on their final six possessions of the first half, the Bears took the second-half kickoff, then marched 69 yards in 11 plays to take the lead.
Maynard completed passes of 21, 19 and 10 yards to half-brother Allen -- all for first downs. The last of them gave Cal the ball at the 6, and Sofele went the rest of the way on a toss play to the right, following a block by tackle Matt Summers-Gavin for a 10-7 lead with 9:47 left in the quarter.
But the Cal lead lasted less than 2 minutes. The Longhorns covered 76 yards in four plays, the last 47 on a pass to the fleet Goodwin that made it 14-10 with 8:06 left in the third quarter.
Texas took a 7-3 lead into halftime after executing the kind of trick play that made the reputation of first-year offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin during his five seasons in the same job at Boise State.
A rare poor punt by Cal's three-time all-conference senior Bryan Anger, a 24-yard shank, set up Texas at the Cal 48-yard line with 7:27 left in the first half. Ash immediately passed 14 yards to wideout Jaxon Shipley and two plays later completed a 30-yarder to Blaine Irby to the 4-yard line.
Then the Longhorns got creative. Tailback Malcolm Brown took a pitch left, flipped the ball to Shipley headed back to the right, and Shipley delivered a 4-yard touchdown pass to Ash for the lead with 6:08 left in the half.
"We knew any big plays they did have would have to come off gimmicks and trick plays, and that's what happened," Guyton said. "They got us."
Before the Longhorns' one successful possession of the first half, Cal's defense had dominated the game. Texas had just seven net yards and one first down in the first quarter, and totaled 16 plays on 19 snaps through its first five possessions.
"I thought Cal's defense played great early," Texas coach Brown said. "They were everywhere. We couldn't run. We couldn't block them."
The Bears' most effective offensive series of the half was their first. They moved 40 yards in 11 plays to take a 3-0 lead. Tavecchio's 47-yard field goal with 6:06 left in the quarter was the longest by a Cal kicker in a bowl game.
The Bears managed just 33 more yards on 25 plays the rest of the half.