It's the big-play offense of San Jose State against the stingy defense of Central Michigan when the teams meet in today's California Bowl.

The Spartans (8-2-1) averaged 35.2 points per game (12th best in the nation), while the Chippewas (8-2-1) merely led the nation in scoring defense, allowing 8.9 points per game."Most of our wins were in dominating fashion," San Jose State coach Terry Shea said. "It just seems like when we needed the big play, when we needed the turnaround and the momentum, we were able to come up with the big play at the right time."

The offense is led by Ralph Martini, who passed for 2,928 yards, and Sheldon Canley, who has 1,248 yards rushing and 386 yards receiving. The Chippewas counter with Jeff Bender (1,978 passing yards) and tailback Billy Smith (1,047 yards).

But Central Michigan relies on defense, which includes seven seniors led by free safety David Johnson.

"Our style of football is very disciplined," Chippewas coach Herb Deromedi said. "It has to do with where you've got to be, what you've got to take away."

Both teams came close to finishing with even better records this season. Kentucky beat Central Michigan 20-17 in a game that turned on a blocked kick, while San Jose State lost 20-17 to Rose Bowl-bound Washington.