2013 Cal Football Season Predictions: Bears Projected to Win 6 or 7 Games

Jamie Sabau

We have the results of our final round of 2013 season predictions. Cal has three sure-wins and six or seven toss-up games. Bowl eligibility may not be so farfetched after all...

Last week we asked you to participate in our final round of 2013 season predictions. The results have not changed much since spring, but the same theme emerges from the results: the season is full of toss-up games and the Bears' performance in these games will determine whether or not we go to a bowl or sit home during December.

Let's break it down. In the following table we have the average win probability and a measure of uncertainty (the standard deviation to be precise). In parentheses next to the win probability is the change from our spring predictions.


Opponent Win Probability Uncertainty
Northwestern 0.536 (+.01) 0.164
Portland St. 0.956 (+.00) 0.092
Ohio St. 0.328 (+.01) 0.158
@ Oregon 0.220 (-.01) 0.142
Washington St. 0.760 (+.02) 0.121
@ UCLA 0.461 (+.01) 0.115
Oregon St. 0.550 (+.02) 0.142
@ Washington 0.515 (+.03) 0.163
Arizona 0.601 (+.02) 0.138
USC 0.441 (+.04) 0.193
@ Colorado 0.765 (+.02) 0.145
@ Stanfurd 0.437 (+.01) 0.228
Total 6.57 (+.17) 1.26

Cal is heavily favored (70+% chance of winning) in three games: Portland State, Washington State, and Colorado. If we lose any of those, we have serious problems. Serious, bowl-preventing, what-are-the-coaches-doing kinds of problems. At the other end of the spectrum we have two games in which we will be heavy underdogs ( < 35% chance of winning): Oregon and Ohio State. An Ohio State upset isn't inconceivable. The worst Cal team since the Holmoecaust nearly upset them at the 'shoe last season. Oregon will be a more serious challenge, barring sudden incompetence from new head coach Mark Helfrich.

This leaves us with a whopping seven toss up games (win chances between 40% and 60%). Assuming we win the three easiest games on the schedule, this means we can win up to 10 (!) games if Juju smiles upon us. Even if we bump the Big Game to the "probable loss" category, that still gives us 6 toss-up games to earn those three final wins that guarantee us bowl eligibility. Better yet, four of those six toss-ups are at home. 6 wins doesn't seem so hard now, does it?

The average number of projected wins is 6.57, a slight bump up from 6.40 in the spring.

We have looked at the averages. Now let's visualize this to look at the distributions. The x-axis in the plot below represents the Bears' chances of winning and the y-axis represents the percentage of ballots making that prediction.

 photo 2013homepredictions_zps6d3f35c7.png

Obviously Portland State is the easiest game. Nearly everyone gave the Bears a 95%-100% chance of beating them. The next-easiest game is Washington State. Arizona is next--that should be a fun shootout...unless the Arizona offense stays home again and they fail to score a TD. They were terrible on the road last year for mysterious reasons. Northwestern and Oregon State look pretty similar. Our second-toughest home game, apparently, is USC. I don't agree. By the time November rolls around the Trojans should be undermotivated by their lame duck head coach. Finally, we have Ohio State. If Cal wants to get to a bowl game, we'll need to defend the home turf and win 5 games at home. A total of 4 home wins means we will have to upset someone on the road. That could be a challenge.

 photo 2013awaypredictions_zps2b77e07f.png

Other than the Buffs, the Bears don't face great odds on the road this season. UCLA and UW are toss-ups. Fortunately, beating either will almost guarantee a bowl berth. Oregon is clearly the toughest road opponent. Not many of us believe the Bear Raid will be ready to keep up with the Ducks by the fourth game of the season. Kudos to those of you who contributed to that little bump at the 100% chance of beating Stanford.

Simulating the Season

Next I took all our predictions and used them to simulate the season 1 million times. The table below shows our chances of winning 0 to 12 games.

Wins Probability
0 0.00%
1 0.03%
2 0.37%
3 2.05%
4 7.07%
5 15.51%
6 23.17%
7 23.79%
8 16.99%
9 8.11%
10 2.46%
11 0.42%
12 0.03%

The good news is that we're 37 times more likely to go undefeated than to go winless. Of course, relative odds don't mean squat when we're talking about exceedingly rare outcomes. The most likely outcome was 7 wins, followed closely by 6 wins. If we add up the probabilities, we have a roughly 75% chance of earning bowl eligibility this season. 9+ wins is not an inconceivable outcome, as we have a roughly 10% chance to win 9 or more.

If you prefer charts to tables, I plotted a histogram of the results below. Even if you don't prefer charts to tables, I've still plotted it below.

 photo 2013FallSimulations_zps49d61f29.png

Given the number of toss-up games on our schedule this year, a seven-win season does not seem so farfetched. With 7 wins (and possibly 8 with a bowl win), Dykes and company will carry a ton of momentum into the 2014 season. That would be a tremendous accomplishment against one of the toughest schedules in the nation. Yep, a seven-win season would be mighty fine.


And now we move onto part where we give back to the community, the awards!

Because we're in a new era of Cal football, we're using new names for our awards. Gone are the Sunshine Pumpers and Old Blues, which have been replaced by new awards inspired by the current regime.

First we will recognize those with the most optimistic predictions.

Sonny Delight

Username Total Wins
2. Oski Disciple 10.50
3. Rugbear 9.63
4. asdfadsf 9.40
5. CruzinBears 9.29
6. Jacobs. 9.24
7. Rose Bowl Oski 9.09
8. vikingaftermath 9.00
8. DavidsonBear 9.00
10. 46bear 8.89

KHALFANI-BELIEVETOACHIEVE leads the Sonny Delight-drinking optimists. 12 and 0! While no one else gave the Bears a 100% chance to win each game, there were several totals exceeding 9 wins. Keep on chugging the Sonny D!

Next we recognize the most pessimistic among us.

Sonny Yikes!

Username Total Wins
1. Purple Pussy 2.88
2. BearsLair72 2.95
3. J 3.15
4. ET 3.62
5. tbnw01 3.95
6. blablablasbnatino 4.02
7. cheaplu 4.05
8. puresilence 4.43
9. SecludedCircle 4.57
10. tang 4.77

Atop the list is Purple...Pussy?


oooooookay. Is that some sort of Washington thing? The UW prediction was relatively high compared to the others, which suggests that this is not a Washington homer. I don't think it's a Northwestern fan either. Perhaps some mysteries are best left unsolved...

Only two predictions were worse than last year's 3-9 record. DBDers should not be surprised to see the ever-gloomy puresilence among the most pessimistic. And it should come as no surprise that tang is about as far from Sonny Delight as possible.

Next we recognize those whose predictions were closest to the group average for each game. These reasonable folks best represent the CGB community predictions.

The Voice of Reason

Username Deviation
1. goldenbear 0.044
2. Mr Punch 0.049
3. Ohio Bear 0.050
4. Benny G 0.051
5. beantownbear 0.053
6. Alohabear 0.055
7. atomsareenough 0.057
8. lithium 0.058
9. UncleSam22 0.060
10. bamboobanga 0.060

There must be something about living outside California that makes one especially reasonable. We have Ohio, Boston, Hawaii, and Alabama (UncleSam22) represented here. And three of CGB's mods made the list--what a great group of leaders we have here at CGB!

Speaking of leaders, you may be interested in how your dear leaders at CGB voted. We value transparency here and have released our ballots for public mocking viewing.

Fearless Leaders

atomsareenough 0.55 0.99 0.4 0.25 0.75 0.45 0.45 0.6 0.65 0.5 0.85 0.4 6.84
Ohio Bear 0.6 0.99 0.25 0.15 0.75 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.8 0.5 6.64
UncleSam22 0.5 1 0.33 0.25 0.75 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.45 0.65 0.4 6.43
LeonPowe 0.6 0.99 0.35 0.25 0.7 0.4 0.45 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.55 0.99 6.38
Berkelium97 0.55 0.999 0.35 0.15 0.75 0.45 0.5 0.45 0.65 0.6 0.7 0.15 6.299
norcalnick 0.5 0.99 0.4 0.15 0.8 0.35 0.6 0.45 0.6 0.5 0.7 0.15 6.19
Nam Le 0.42 1 0.18 0.11 0.82 0.29 0.36 0.46 0.39 0.49 0.9 0.13 5.55

atoms is the most optimistic while our intrepid fall practice reporter Nam is the least optimistic. Hmm...that doesn't exactly fill me with optimism. Showing that the CGB Hivemind is alive and well, our predictions have little spread for most games. The one outlier is LeonPowe's 99% prediction of a win over Stanfurd. That is the ballot of a true Cal fan. We all could learn a thing or two from him.

Fortunately we are not yet done with predictions. Tomorrow we expand our horizons to project the entire Pac-12 schedule for all 12 teams. How will Cal stack up against its Pac-12 competition? You may be surprised...

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