SAN DIEGO (Ticker) -- Maybe, just maybe Mack Brown had a point.
After getting edged for its first Rose Bowl berth in 46 years, fourth-ranked California had hoped to end its season on a high note but instead played poorly in a 45-31 loss to No. 21 Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.
Despite being ranked fourth in both human polls, California (10-2) was passed by Texas in the final BCS poll for a spot in the Rose Bowl. Brown, the Longhorns coach, may have swayed some coaches to drop the Golden Bears in the rankings following an unimpressive 26-16 victory at Southern Mississippi on December 4.
"We didn't lose a game tonight because we didn't go to the Rose Bowl," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "That has nothing to do with preparation or focus."
"I think Cal is one of the best teams in the country," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said. "Just because we beat somebody doesn't mean they're not a good team."
In this one, Texas Tech dominated the final three quarters with its high-powered passing attack.
Sonny Cumbie was 6-for-11 for 47 yards and a touchdown in the opening quarter before going to work.
Cumbie, who entered the game leading the nation in passing with 4,222 yards, finished 40-of-60 for 520 yards and three TDs. His 60 pass attempts set a Holiday Bowl record.
Cumbie won the Offensive MVP award, and was not intercepted while completing passes to 10 different receivers.
"We came out and played at a high tempo from the start," Cumbie said. "As long as we play at a high tempo, it doesn't matter who we're playing."
The Cal defense had allowed just 46 second-half points all season but were burned for 21 by Texas Tech.
"They came at us with exactly what we expected," Cal safety Ryan Guitierrez said. "We just didn't make the plays."
"They're talented, some of the best we've played" said Texas Tech halfback Trey Haverty of the Bears' defense. "Half of the time they got us, but we were able to go over the top on them a couple of times.
The Red Raiders (8-4) trailed 14-7 after the first quarter but outscored Cal 31-3 in the middle two quarters to take control of the game. Cumbie threw a five-yard TD pass to Jarrett Hicks and Taurean Henderson scored on a two-yard run to highlight Texas Tech's 17-point second quarter.
Hicks finished with nine catches for 67 yards and two TDs and set a Texas Tech record with 13 TDs this season.
Coming into the game as one of the most efficient passers in the nation, Cal's Aaron Rodgers was not sharp and completed only 17-of-33 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once.
"I wasn't on today," Rodgers said. "I wasn't as accurate as I think I should be. I think they (Texas Tech) were well prepared, they were covering our guys."
J.J. Arrington rushed for 173 yards and a TD on 26 carries for Cal. He recorded his 12th-straight game with over 100 yards, breaking Marcus Allen's Pac-10 record. Arrington finished with 2,018 yards on the year, the highest total in Cal history.
Red Raiders' safety Vincent Meeks was awarded Defensive MVP honors.