Cal's strong regular-season finish has placed the Bears squarely in contention for one of the Pac-12's top bowls.

Officials from the Alamo Bowl and Holiday Bowl -- which respectively have the second and third choices of a Pac-12 team after the Rose Bowl -- both said the Bears are being seriously considered.

"Obviously they've finished strong, which is great," said Rick Hill, the Alamo Bowl's vice president of marketing and communications. "We probably haven't focused on them as much until the last couple weeks, but the communication has been increasing."

Mark Neville, the Holiday Bowl's director of communication, had glowing praise for Cal.

"We've had great experiences with the Cal football team, and their athletic department and fans have been absolutely fantastic," Neville said. "The BCS has to shake out, and the Alamo Bowl picks ahead of us. Obviously, Cal is in the discussion and played their way into it, which is terrific."

The Bears (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) won three of their final four games -- including Friday's 47-38 victory at Arizona State -- and the one defeat was 31-28 to Stanford, ranked eighth in the country at the time.

Critical to Cal's bowl fate is the widely held belief that Stanford and Oregon will be invited to Bowl Championship Series games, which would mean other teams move up in the Pac-12 bowl pecking order.

After Utah's 17-14 loss to lowly Colorado, the Utes, at 7-5, are tied with Cal and Washington and no longer a slam-dunk option for the Alamo Bowl.

Played Dec. 29 in San Antonio, the Alamo Bowl pits a Big 12 team against a Pac-12 squad, and Hill said it's important to pair teams that offer an intriguing storyline. The Big 12 schedule doesn't finish until next weekend, so the Alamo Bowl won't make any decisions until then.

Exciting offense is a big sell to bowls, and Cal rolled up 484 total yards against Arizona State. That offset considerable defensive struggles -- particularly in downfield pass coverage -- as the Sun Devils gained 477 yards themselves.

Cal quarterback Zach Maynard completed 19 of 26 passes for 237 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Tailback Isi Sofele ran for 157 yards -- he's now sixth on Cal's single-season list with 1,266. His backup, C.J. Anderson, scored three touchdowns, including a 74-yard catch and run.

"We talk about Zach maturing, but I think Isi has really done well that way, and so has C.J.," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said.

If Cal doesn't go to the Alamo Bowl or Holiday Bowl, it would likely be invited by the Sun Bowl. The Bears have never played in the game, held Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas.

What appears certain is Cal won't play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park. That game gets the No. 6 Pac-12 choice, and the Bears seem destined to be chosen higher.

"I think my chances of getting Cal went down a little bit after (Friday) night's game," said Gary Cavalli, the bowl's executive director.