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CGB Predicts the California Golden Bears 2010 Football Season! + Bonus Roundtable!

Opponent Win Probability
UC Davis 0.978 (+.003)
Colorado 0.841 (+.004)
at Nevada 0.718 (+.000)
at Arizona 0.527 (-.028)
UCLA 0.774 (+.045)
at USC 0.351 (+.078)
Arizona St. 0.767 (+.026)
at Oregon St. 0.399 (-.005)
at Wash St. 0.885 (-.011)
Oregon 0.531 (+.056)
Furd 0.691 (+.003)
Washington 0.633 (+.036)
Total 8.113 (+.188)

TwistNHook: One more day, my Cal friends. One more day. We are so close to the start of the college football season. We are so close to warm, blue skies over Memorial as 70,000 stand as one. We are so close to march up, pre-game, half time, and march down. We are so close to the final season in Old Memorial Stadium before the alterations and upgrades to the West Side, including the SAHPC.

As we transition into the regular season, we wanted to take one last look at the pre-season expectations of Cal fans. We recently polled our readership and thank you so much for the responses. We had over 250 responses! We did this in the spring and discovered that when all the votes were counted and the numbers crunched, Cal fans provided a 2010 winning percentage of 7.925:

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.

Well, we're pumping even more Tedford sunshine than normal, because Cal fans have slightly increased their winning percentage for the 2010 season. As seen in the chart to the right, there was a .188 increase to 8.133 wins. Now, either way, you are looking at approximately 8 wins, a solid, in unspectacular year. You can see that fans have become more confident in victories over Oregon and USC. However, they have even larger concerns regarding Arizona and *gasp* Washington State. The differences are not great from the spring numbers, but they are still clear.

After the jump, let's take a closer look at the numbers and see how your CGB mods are approaching this season. GO BEARS!

Berkelium97: Here's a look at this year's home games. Voters are so confident in the win over UC Davis that its distribution towers over the others and makes them rather difficult to examine in detail.

(Click each image if you'd like to see a slightly larger version than SBN's autosized version)

Berkelium97: Without UC Davis in the way, it's easier to see how everyone thinks the season will turn out. Oregon clearly stands out as the toughest game, as most fans give Cal about a 50% chance of winning. Stanford and Washington are the next toughest, each around 65-70%. Voters were quite confident about the matchups against UCLA and ASU, as Cal has about an 80% chance to win those. It looks like most of us seem to think Colorado will receive a rough introduction to the Pac-12, as Cal's chances are about 85% in that game. Overall, fans seem confident in Cal's ability to win its home games this year. A 6-1 record seems most likely, with the lone loss coming against Oregon or perhaps against Stanford or Washington if Cal stumbles in either of those matchups.

TwistNHook: Our home schedule seems fairly easy for the first four games. ASU and UCLA are more likely than not to provide problems compared to Colorado and UC Davis. Much of this season rides on the last 3 games of the season, so we shouldn't be surprised if we have a 4-0 home record going into those last 3 games.

Anything can happen in those last 3 games. Those are 3 of the more hyped teams in the Pac10 right now. However, all have major questions. Can Oregon survive the loss of its Heisman contending QB, Jeremiah Masoli? Can Stanford survive the loss of its Heisman contending RB Toby Gerhart? And is Washington actually good or just smoke and mirrors?


Berkelium97: The away games are more of a mixed bag. USC is clearly the toughest game, with most fans giving Cal about a 30% chance of winning it. With only a 40% chance of winning, the matchup against Oregon State isn't much easier. Despite Arizona's turnover on both offensive and defensive coordinators, Cal fans still think the Wildcats have about a 50% chance of beating the Bears. A series of unfortunate circumstances in recent visits to Tuscon keep many of us skeptical about our chances to win. Fans are much more confident in away games against Nevada (~70%) and the lovable Cougars of WSU (~90%). Overall, it looks like Cal fans expect a 3-2 or 2-3 road record this season.

TwistNHook: When the home schedule is so favorable (as it is in even years), that means the road schedule is so much worse. If we are fated to 6-1 at home, that means we are likely to go 2-3 on the road to get to that 8 win setting. That probably means victories over Nevada and WSU. Nevada is a concern to me, because of their high powered offense. However, they are probably the 4th best road team we'll face all year. I could easily see Cal losing to Arizona, USC, and OSU in succession there. Ai!


Berkelium97: In order from most likely win to least likely win we have: UCDavis, @WSU, Colorado, UCLA, @ASU, @Nevada, Stanford, Washington, Oregon, @Arizona, @OSU, @USC. Other than UCLA jumping up two spots and Oregon jumping up one spot, the order is identical to the spring predictions.

Overall, standard deviations of the win probabilities were lower than they were during the spring, dropping about .03 in most cases. Since we know more about our own team and our opponents, it's not surprising that Cal fans enjoy more consensus in their predictions.

Having looked over the predictions, now it's time for CGB to hand out some awards! We could only give awards to those who gave their names with their ballots, so some of you may have missed out.

First off we have Tedford's Sunshine Pumpers, whose lofty expectations soar above the rest, and the Brown Dwarfs, who could use a little more sunshine in their outlook for this season.

Tedford's Sunshine Pumpers Brown Dwarfs
willnotdie (10.4) matt (6.4)
itrublu (10.15) SoCalOski (6.544)
TrumanHugh (10.0) Gustav Nikolai (6.51)
CruzinBears (9.53) Jake88 (6.6)
Oski4Heisman (9.471) Jack_S (6.8)

Berkelium97: Next up we have awards for those whose ballots were most similar to and least similar to the overall group predictions. Most of you with divergent opinions failed to provide your names! In fact, 8 out of the top 10 most divergent opinions were nameless! As members of a vibrant Twistocracy, you should not be afraid of expressing opinions that deviate from the norm. Well, except those of you who won the most divergent award. You'll be sent to a re-education through labor camp, where you will translate the sacred DBDs of TwistNHook to English and then distribute them to the masses. In parentheses you'll find the deviation of each individual from the group predictions.

CGB Hivemind One-Way Ticket to TwistNHook's Re-Education Through Labor Camp
House66 (.044) willnotdie (.206)
Ghost (.045) itrublu (.199)
RoundBallBear(.048) matt (.195)
GeoFreak(.048) dirt (.183)
atomsareenough (.051) distill (.181)

Berkelium97: Here we have a special award for JSyydrotech's #1 fan. Our good friend (likely from that pervert den up at Addicted to Quack) wins the Pedoski Award for outstanding creepiness and stalker-eqsue behavior. Let's see what kind of ballot earns such an award:

Opponent Win Probability
UC Davis I'm waiting for Hydrotech's assessment
Colorado Whatever Hydrotech says!
at Nevada I think Hydrotech told me we'll win this one!
at Arizona Hydrotech's sock drawer told me this is a win.
UCLA I got the answer by smelling his used socks.
at USC What? It wasn't creepy.
Arizona St. Okay, but it wasn't THAT creepy.
at Oregon St. I like his crew socks the most.
at Wash St. They smelt of his beautiful blood and sweat
Oregon Which reminds me of his love and passion.
Furd 1
Washington I love you Hydrotech.

Berkelium97: That submission would have been much more disturbing if Cal didn't have a 100% chance of winning the Big Game.

Several of you probably want to know how your fearless leaders voted. Overall, your wonderful mods at CGB seem to have fairly similar outlooks for the season.

TwistNHook: I did not vote. Because I am stupid. It is interesting (and frustrating) to me that HydroTech has a much lower win percentage than the rest of the mods. Triple Le Sigh!

ragnarok 1 0.85 0.7 0.4 0.75 0.18 0.7 0.38 0.92 0.52 0.7 0.72 7.82
Ohio Bear 0.95 0.75 0.6 0.4 0.65 0.3 0.75 0.4 0.8 0.5 0.6 0.6 8.06
atomsareenough 0.99 0.9 0.75 0.55 0.75 0.4 0.75 0.4 0.95 0.4 0.7 0.7 8.24
HydroTech 1 0.7 0.5 0.3 0.7 0.3 0.85 0.2 0.95 0.15 0.6 0.6 6.85
Kodiak 1 0.9 0.6 0.4 0.8 0.3 0.7 0.3 0.8 0.4 0.7 0.75 7.65
Berkelium97 0.99 0.8 0.55 0.45 0.8 0.35 0.85 0.25 0.9 0.5 0.7 0.6 7.74

TwistNHook: Now, let's bring in all the mods for a regular season prediction Roundtable. Many broadcasters and other prognosticators are down on the California Golden Bears this year. Are they on to anything? Or can Cal exceed expectations? Where do you all see Cal ending up this year? How many wins? Which bowl? GO BEARS!

CALumbus Bear: Many broadcasters and other prognosticators are down on the California Golden Bears this year. Are they on to anything? Or can Cal exceed expectations? Where do you all see Cal ending up this year? How many wins? Which bowl? GO BEARS!

atomsareenough: I'm pretty confident that we're going to do better than the so-called "experts", not because I think we're going to be some juggernaut that will win the Pac-10 or anything, but because experts picked us way too low. We're NOT a 7th-place team. Maybe more like a 4th or 5th place team that can, if things break our way, overachieve our way into title contention. Cal will definitely exceed current expectations. Of course, I can also imagine us starting well, and if we win our first few conference games... say, maybe we're 5-0 when we head to USC, then we'd probably ranked and the hype machine will crank up on cue to set us up for another fall.

Anyway, I'd say 8-4 sounds reasonable (though I wouldn't be surprised if it's plus or minus 1). I'll say we end up 4th place in the Pac-10, which I believe puts us in the Holiday Bowl now, right?

Kodiak: The professional talking heads are on crack. They're just trying to cover their *sses because Cal hasn't met over-inflated expectations the last few years. Screw them. If you took a year where a team had a senior QB who led the league in wins, playmakers at all the skill positions, an experienced and upcoming wouldn't pick them near the bottom of the league.

We're going to challenge for the championship and will be in the top 3 at worst. I'm not drinking the Kool-Aid...I'm snorting the powder and setting fire to the convenience store. This is the year we're smelling Roses. At worst, we get a few bad breaks and go to the Sun Bowl. (2nd place) Go Bears!

LeonPowe: August 31 7:06 am is when kodiak jinxed our season. Please write that down somewhere. Me, I think we've got a few too many question marks especially where depth is concerned (o-line anyone?) but the talent is the skill positions is there, and I think Riley leads us to 3rd or 4th place.

atomsareenough: I'm really glad that some people are optimistic. I think one thing that the "experts" are overlooking is a potentially favorable schedule. We have Oregon, Washington, Stanford, and UCLA all at home. I think we've played fairly well in the Coliseum in the Tedford era, and if USC is not playing its best football when we face them this time around, we could finally come away with one. I don't think it makes a huge difference where we play Oregon State; Corvallis isn't exactly an Autzen-like atmosphere, and we've demonstrated that we can faceplant against them just as well at home. The trip to Tucson does worry me a bit, though. I don't really know what to think of Arizona, to be honest.

Avinash: I haven't talked about it yet on this site, but in the SB Nation Preseason Poll from earlier this week, I did pick Cal to finish second in the conference. Yes, I know that's probably the most extreme viewpoint (Phil Steele had us 3rd I believe, and MrPacTen over at Scout was the only one going on the limb to finish 1st), but I have plenty of evidence to support this claims.

First, every other contender has suffered critical losses. USC lost its entire secondary. UCLA has no offensive line. The Furd no longer has the White Stallion, Toby Gerhart. Arizona's front seven was nearly taken apart by graduation. Even the clear favorites, the Oregon schools, both lost their experienced starting quarterbacks. Only Washington seems to have returned intact--but they were 5-7 last season, and their climb will be much higher to reach the top.

Cal, on the other hand, lost fairly minimal. Yes, we lost three big stars, but they left fairly intact units behind them. Riley returns with his two most reliable receiving threats (wideout Marvin Jones and tight end Anthony Miller). Jahvid Best will be replaced by Shane Vereen and (if they're needed) a deep running back rotation. The offensive line is the biggest question, but with four starters returning (particularly with Mitchell Schwartz and Matt Summers-Gavin now guarding the edges), it'd be very disappointing if they didn't improve from their subpar 2009 campaign.

Cameron Jordan probably won't be as good as Tyson Alualu was, but the defensive line has so many guys who are ready to play and six guys with starting experience (Jordan, Derrick Hill, Trevor Guyton, Ernest Owusu, Kendrick Payne, Aaron Tipoti), which should allow Pendergast the flexibility to experiment with some 4-3. The linebacking corps is a little thinner, but the starting lineup should be much improved, with D.J. Holt, Mychal Kendricks and Mike Mohamed having started the majority of last season. Of course everyone wonders what'll happen at secondary with Syd'Quan Thompson gone, but there are plenty of guys on that unit (Darian Hagan, Bryant Nnabuife, Josh Hill, Chris Conte, Sean Cattouse) who've seen the field enough over the past season to help bring the young'ins like Marc Anthony, Steve Williams and D.J. Campbell along.

Second, no more Alamar. That's an improvement in and of itself. Cal always seemed to lose one game every year they should have won because of his unit's bungling. While I don't think we're going to have an Urban Meyer elite crack unit, with more experienced players likely to see the field and Jeff Genyk taking the reins, it's hard to see us not improving to a team that doesn't give away games. Also, the fact that all of us won't be experiencing total fear every time the unit takes the field is a huge plus.

Third, Cal gets the extra home game. People will scoff at the idea of home field advantage at the modestly noisy Memorial, but the Golden Bears have owned Strawberry Canyon under Tedford, winning their last 33 games against teams not named USC and Oregon State. Oregon will have something to say about that mark (as will, to a lesser extent, the Cardinal), but the Bears should be healthy favorites in the remainder of their games.

Finally, this is the best looking schedule they've ever had. They do have a challenge in Reno, and will probably have to duel Arizona, USC and Oregon State on the road to start off Pac-10 play--but sandwiched in between those tests are a bye week and home dates against UCLA and Arizona State. They're done with road games after the trap in Pullman, so by the first week of November and can grind out what could be a critical three game stretch (Oregon, Big Game, Washington) without having to leave the Bay Area.

I couldn't go quite all the way and predict them to beat USC and Oregon State on the road, nor do I have them as a certainty to beat Oregon at home or take down Arizona in the desert, but I'm fairly confident that Cal will be favored in the remainder of their games, and should win a fair majority of them if they play up to their capabilities. With new energy on defense and special teams, the Golden Bears should surprise pundits and fans alike with an impressive season that'll have the faithful.

Well, until they finish second and realize they were one win away from Pasadena. Then they'll get depressed again and start lashing out again.

NorCalNick: Well, now that Avi has pumped the sunshine, I'll offer the Debbie Downer perspective.

I've been trying to talk myself into Cal as a Rose Bowl contender this year, and I just can't do it. Granted, I think that Cal is very likely to outperform media expectations, but those expectations are irrationally low as an extreme reaction to Cal's failure to meet unrealistically high expectations in the past. Nevertheless, when I see Cal I see a defense that lost its best players from a strongly underperforming secondary and mediocre defensive line, and I see a defense with a new coordinator to adapt to. While I do think that there is talent at every position, talent isn't necessarily enough. I feel like we're counting on multiple players to take their game to the next level (Cameron Jordan, one of the rush linebackers and pretty much the entire secondary). Is it possible that all of those guys will burst through? Sure. But it's just as likely that they fail to meet expectations.

I'm more confident about the offensive side of the ball, but then again I felt confident about the offense last year and ended up watching Cal struggle to do anything on offense in multiple blowouts. I think Cal can't afford any serious injuries to the offensive line, because the skill position players are there to make for a good to great offense. But if the line doesn't make things go it won't matter.

And I agree with Avi that special teams are likely to improve simply with Alamar being gone, but at the same time I'm not convinced there is a kicker on the roster than can consistently get past the 5 yard line on kickoffs or that I trust from outside of 40 yards, Genyk or no Genyk.

Despite all of these reservations I do think that 8-4 (5-4) is the baseline. But I'm worried that the Pac-10 is too deep and Cal has too many question marks to truly compete for the conference crown. But I can't wait to be proven wrong!

Avinash: Caveat: The defensive line was not mediocre last year. They were top tier and often demanded constant double teams. The problem came from a linebacking corps that lost three starters and its main pass rusher and could not hold up their gaps last season or get to the quarterback on the blitzes. There were also significant errors in the passing game holding zone coverage whilet letting their man slip behind or in front of them.

With Gregory gone and Pendergast in, I think you'll see the Bears try a more aggressive approach to keep Cal's defense flowing and opposing offenses guessing. Where's the blitz coming from? Who's dropping into coverage? Will the defensive line attack the gaps or hold them open for the linebackers? Will the defensive backs get on the quarterback? How will they handle the motions before the snap? All of this should work in Cal's favor this season, with only a few Pac-10 quarterbacks coming in well-seasoned and able to deal with the rush.

HydroTech: I think Cal will probably end the regular season with around 6 to 8 wins. While the defense remains a big question mark because none of us know what to really expect, I'm feeling pretty confident that it will be solid enough to keep games competitive. However, whether we win those games are not, in my opinion, will fall on the shoulders of the offense; primarily on the shoulders of Kevin Riley. Like last year, I'm thinking Cal's success can probably be closely correlated with his completion percentage. If Riley can hit greater than 60% of his passes, that might be enough to tip the scale more towards 8 wins. If Riley can even approach an Aaron Rodgers level of play and complete 65% of his passes, then I could see Cal surpassing 8 wins.

TwistNHook: What if Riley completes 100% of his passes?

HydroTech: If Riley completes 100% of his passes, I will buy beer for all the commenters on CGB.

TwistNHook: What if Riley completes 100% of his passes and there is a worldwide global beer shortage?

Avinash: Riley's going to wonder why a few people are booing when Cal is up 31-0 against UC Davis, he's 12 for 12, and Spencer Ladner drops one between the numbers.

Ohio Bear: I would like to say that the prognositcators are wrong this year. They've been so disappointed by Cal football's failure to reach their expectations of years past that they are overcompensating and downgrading the Bears more than is warranted. But they might be on to something. I mean, there are some similarities to last year's buzzkill team that make you go...hmmmmm.

* Offensive line uncertainty? 2009, check. 2010, check.
* Kevin Riley uncertainty? 2009, check. 2010, check.
* Defensive line uncertainty? 2009, check. 2010, check.
* Special teams uncertainty? 2009, check. 2010, check.
* Wide receiver uncertainty? 2009, check. 2010, check.
That's not all, but you get the point. Similar questions, similar teams. Last year, however, we had Jahvid Best and momentum from 2008 to build on, making expectations soar. Did I buy into it last year's hype? Well, yes and no. I was optimistic but I was long ago scarred by past disappointments to truly jump on the "Pasadena Here We Come!" train. (The last time I got on that train early, Mack Brown picked me up out of my seat and threw me off the train.) But I'm not buying that this year's team is a 6th or 7th place Pac-10 finisher either.
But we have the talent to do much better than 6th or 7th in the Pac-10. Marvin Jones, Shane Vereen, Anthony Miller, Mike Mohamed, and Cameron Jordan are all good enough to be legitimate first-team all conference performers and they can make this team be good if they perform anywhere near their capability. And guys like Kevin Riley, Mychal Kendricks, Darian Hagan, Steve Williams, Sean Cattouse, Kendrick Payne, and Keenan Allen could be good enough to make us a REALLY good team if they meet or exceed optimistic expectations. And if we get improvement on defense, improved offensive line play reminiscent of the Coach Michalczik era, and imrpoved special teams play that doesn't make us give away field position, we could see ourselves closer to the top of the conference than the bottom -- making the prognosticators shake their heads again and wonder what the hell to do with us in their 2011 preseason predictions.
Will it happen? Who knows. I've pointed to a lot of big "ifs." All I know is that it sucks to underachieve (based on the preseason expectations, no matter how fair or unfair they are), but it's great to overachieve. Perhaps we did something to piss off the Juju and the Juju punished us in 2009. If that is the case, please forgive us our transgressions, Juju, and empower us with the Juju's magic to prove the experts wrong this year.
In my heart of hearts, I think this will be a good team. Still, I can't bring myself to predict any better than 8 wins in the regular season and a Sun Bowl appearance.
Oh yeah -- and keeping the Axe, too.