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Where I Come From: Expectations for the Season

This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.

Well, all good things must come to an end.  Also, the EA Sports NCAA Football 2011 game preview selloutathon.  It's been real, folks is about to end.  We had a lot of fun.  We laughed.  We cried.  We snuggled.  We briefly gained political control over the autonomous region of East Timor.  Pretty much exactly what EA Sports wanted when they came to us SBNers.  The game comes out tomorrow, so we are supposed to take a look at the upcoming season. I guess I am supposed to put my smart brain hat on and write a few witticisms and in depth knowledgesies that will wow you with their knowledgesie!  Well, I'm sorry, but I'm too stupid.  Did you really doubt that?  Did you really think people come here, going "Well, I really hope Twist has written an in depth analysis of a sporting event, because that is something I want to read!"?  NO!  Nobody ever thinks that.  My sole ability is to look pretty and stand near people who do know what they are talking about.

People like you!  Which is why it's great that we do have a post (written helpfully by noted intelligent person, Avi) that takes into account over 500 of our readers' views on the upcoming season.  So, why listen to me, when you can listen to you!  Because if there is one thing we know the best, it's that you are much smarter than me.  Yes, even you!

After the jump, let's take a closer look at the upcoming season.  Thanks to you.


Indeed, the final average from our season indicates a return to the previous two seasons--a regular season finish of around 8-4, with the actual expected value of wins around 7.925, with a standard deviation of 0.86. So it looks like our fans are expecting a solid if unspectacular season, akin to 2008, where expectations were not a big part of the game.

In terms of the Pac-10, we ended up somewhere between a 5-4 and 6-3 conference record. Non conference wins were estimated at around 2.53, so the lean is a little bit more to the five rather than the six.

Finally, with regards to road and home, we might finally see our undefeated Memorial streak to teams not named Oregon State and USC snapped. Our expected home record is 5-2, meaning a road record of 3-2. However, looking at the data this way, it's hard to figure out where the losses would come, although it wouldn't be that tough to venture a guess when we look at the individual matchup win probabilities.



Overall distribution

8 wins seems to be where everyone's coordinating themselves, with about one standard deviation (68% of the overall submitters) between 7.065 and 8.785 wins. So the seven to nine win platform seems about the same as before, with not many people going beyond that or below that. Since the Golden Bears have only failed to win seven games once in the Tedford era, it seems playing to averages would be just fine for most Cal fans this season.

Easiest victories

Unsurprisingly, almost all our readers are fairly confident in a victory over UC Davis--at 0.975 with a standard deviation of only 0.074, it was the easiest prediction most of our fans made. The majority of the ballots were either 99 or 100 percent for an opening day win at Memorial. Wazzu and Colorado also are considered easy opponents for the Bears next season, and the only three games that I'd expect Cal fans to be baffled to lose.

Fiercest foes

In a shocker, USC is again the toughest opponent, and it's not terribly close, with the fourth lowest standard deviation (0.115). A little bit surprising is that Oregon State is second--I know we haven't had much success with the Beavers lately, but Oregon and Washington seem to be tougher opponents this season. Oregon State's on the next tier with Arizona.

The most interesting result was probably Nevada. At 72%, our results seem to establish equal, if not greater difficulty as we do with conference dates with ASU and UCLA. That seems a little strange--although the Wolfpack aren't going to be pushovers in 2010, it's not going to be a substantial road trip and won't be your typical road game.


Home Games


Where will the home losses come from?
Not too surprisingly, most fans give us a 50-50 shot to beat Oregon despite the recent success we've had duck hunting in Strawberry Canyon. We'll probably be underdogs when the defending Pac-10 champs come to town in November. As you can see from the graph above, lots of Cal fans are pretty low on us pulling the upset.

The second candidate is a little more difficult to establish. The Huskies are second in the toughness rankings at 63%, but that's hardly a vote of non-confidence. The Furd is next at 68%, and then UCLA (73%) and ASU (74%), and there's plenty. All in all, the win probabilities for those four games adds up to a 3-1 record, despite the fact we'd probably be disappointed if we lost any of these four individually. Up to you to figure out which one is the one that we'd get upset in. Gotta love stats.


Away Games

The road is the road

While home win distributions are pretty bunched up as opposed to previous years, the road is about the same. USC is still the toughest sell, Oregon State is next hardest to go, then Arizona, Nevada and Wazzu. For the Bears to go 3-2 on the road, it seems like they'd have to win one of the three in LA, Corvallis or Tucson. Since Cal lost all three games in those locations in 2008 and two of them in 2006, I'm guessing going 1-2 on this stretch would be acceptable if we meet our home expectations.


So, there you go!  Now, I think we are going to do this crowdsourced exercise again sometime in August we get closer to the season.    It was really awesome to see what 500 of you said a few months back and as we get more information on all the teams Cal faces, it should be fun to see it again.  GO BEARS!