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Predicting the 2011 Cal Football Season: Bears Projected to Go 7-5


Nine days, Cal fans. Nine days from now we will finally see this new-look Cal team in action. But until we see Maynard line up under center (or under shotgun), all we have is speculation. And what fun is the offseason without rampant speculation?

Last week we asked you to tell us the chance that Cal would defeat each opponent. Today we have the results. To your right is the chance that Cal will defeat each opponent. In parentheses is the difference between the most recent predictions and the predictions made in spring. Overall, the results are not too different. The end result is nearly the same: we're expecting a 7-win season from the Bears. We have a good chance to notch wins against Fresno State, Colorado, UCLA, Washington State, and certainly Presbyterian. Several others are toss-ups, and we do not favor the Bears against the favorites for each division of the Pac-12.

With so many games around 50%, however, we are due for both some pleasant and disappointing surprises this season. If everything goes right this season we could go 9-3, but if the wheels come off we could finish 5-7 again.

It is more likely that we will finish somewhere in the middle. We should win four or five games at AT&T Park and steal two or three games on the road. Our ceiling is high, however, as Oregon appears to be the only certain-loss.

After the jump we will look over the results in greater detail, hand out our usual array of awards to those who submitted ballots, and simulate the season one million times to see how likely it is that we go winless, undefeated, and everything in between.

Breaking Down the Win Likelihoods:

In addition to the average win probabilities from the first table, our next table also illustrates how certain we are with our predictions. Recall from Stats 2 that the standard deviation (SD) tells us how much spread or uncertainty is in our estimates. We are less certain about games with larger SDs but are more certain about games with smaller SDs. The standard deviation of our average win predictions is almost a clean 1.0. If you received an A in Stats 2, then you probably recall that there is a 68% chance our win total falls within ±1 of 7 wins and a 95% chance our win total falls between 5 and 9.

Opponent Average Median SD
Fresno St .7047 .70 .123
@ Colorado .7098 .70 .142
Presbyterian .9808 1.0 .072
@ Washington .5413 .50 .135
@ Oregon .2549 .25 .129
USC .3814 .40 .147
Utah .5327 .50 .134
@ UCLA .6840 .70 .122
Washington St .8254 .85 .120
Oregon St .5796 .60 .135
@ Stanford .4029 .40 .172
@ Arizona St .5298 .50 .141
Total Wins: 7.13 7.1 1.01

Most certain outcomes:

1. Presbyterian (98.08% chance of winning)

2. Washington State (68.40% chance of winning)

3. UCLA (68.40% chance of winning)

Is anyone surprised that we are most certain about beating the Blue Hose? They are one of the worst collegiate football teams in the nation. The top-two are the same as our spring predictions and our certainty that we would lose to Oregon has been replaced with certainty that we will defeat the Bruins in the Rose Bowl this October.

Least certain outcomes:

1. Stanford (40.29% chance of winning)

2. USC (38.14% chance of winning)

3. Colorado (70.98% chance of winning)

Stanford is always one of the most uncertain outcomes because there are a select few who refuse to prediction anything but a 100% chance that Cal will defeat those vile Lobsterbacks. When the average prediction is 40% and several others say 100%, it makes our SD skyrocket in a hurry.

We are also fairly uncertain about the USC game. It seems inevitable, doesn't it? USC will come into town and annihilate us as they have for so many years. Sure, they have little experience at O-line and a defense that was gashed repeatedly last season, but they always beat us. I don't know what to make of this game and apparently, neither do many of the readers.

Finally we have the Colorado game. Cal has struggled on the road in recent years...but we're playing against Steve Marshall. Colorado has a fiery young coach who will upset at least one team this season...but we're also playing against Steve Marshall. The altitude could make things tough on the Bears...but we're still playing against Steve Marshall. Cal fans have every right to be concerned and uncertain about the Colorado game, but Pendergast ought to obliterate Steve Marshall's O-line.

If numbers and tables aren't your thing, take a look at the plots below. On the x-axis we have Cal's chances of winning and on the y-axis we have the percentage of you who voted for that outcome. One of games stands out pretty clearly: Presbyterian. We had about 60% of submissions giving Cal a 100% chance of winning, which is why we have that huge spike. Washington State looks appears to be the next-easiest home game, followed by Fresno State, and then a near-tie between Utah and Oregon State. Our toughest home game of the year is clearly USC, where most of you predict we have between a 20% and 50% chance of winning. (BTW, the plots are particularly "lumpy" because people were much more likely to choose numbers divisible by 5 or 10).


There's no Presbyterian-esque spike in our away games, but we are most confident in a victory over Colorado (MARSHALLLLLLLLLL!). Next-easiest is UCLA followed by Washington, ASU, Stanford, and then the Mighty Ducks of Oregon. Kudos to those of you who contributed to that little bump at the 100% mark for Stanford.


Simulating the Season:

Based on all the submissions, I thought it would be interesting to simulate the season to see how likely it is that Cal goes 7-5, 8-4, and so on. The following results are from one million simulations of the season:

Final Record Likelihood
0-12 0.0001%
1-11 00.007%
2-10 00.12%
3-9 00.85%
4-8 3.66%
5-7 10.22%
6-6 19.32%
7-5 24.85%
8-4 21.98%
9-3 12.98%
10-2 4.86%
11-1 1.06%
12-0 00.01%

It looks like a 7-5 season is most likely, though 8-4 and 6-6 follow closely behind. A 9-3 season is not too farfetched, but neither is another 5-7 season. For the oldest and bluest of our readers, get ready to prepare for the worst as we have a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of going winless next season. The sunshine pumpers among us can celebrate that we have a 1 in 1,000 chance of going undefeated.


Now comes time for the fun part, let's hand out some awards! First we have awards for those whose sunshine pumps at levels unknown to mankind (or the rest of CGB, at least). These are not as optimistic as many of the 10 and 11-win submissions that won the Sunshine Pumper awards during spring, but you are still the most optimistic out of all of us.

Tedford's Sunshine Pumpers Total Wins
1. jiggets 10.10
2. Balls 9.77
3. Texashaterforlife 9.75
4. southern bear 9.60
5. Jon525 9.45
6. jdavisbofa 9.30
7. nativeson 9.10
8. gobearsjr 9.05
9. JohnnyCalifornia 8.96
10. winemax 8.95

The Old Blues are next. They had the lowest of the lowest predictions. The Oldest and Bluest of the bunch, bobsyerunkle gave us a 95% chance of beating the Blue Hose, but the other games only averaged 20%. For someone who has inspired us with countless sunshine pumping gifs, Redonkulous Bear is a surprise in this category.

Old Blues Total Wins
1. bobsyerunkle 3.15
2. BenBear 3.60
3. tbnw01 4.74
4. Ragman 5.00
5. slaphancock 5.00
6. jake88 5.00
7. Redonkulous Bear 5.35
8. NITChamp 5.42
9. bearrrific 5.45
10. Glanko 5.48

Next up we have those whose predictions were most similar to CGB at large. Kodiak and yours truly show that we mods are not completely out of touch with the community, despite our fancy titles and "edit" buttons.

The Voice of Reason Standard Deviation
SFmatt .0375
Kodiak .0499
beantownbear .0502
Berkelium97 .0540
alias .0582
AERose .0587
California Pete .0615
OCCalBear83 .0624
Thoroughbred .0625
calblaker .0629

Finally we have our beloved editor's choice award for the submissions that truly stood out from the rest:

Permabanned Award: Redonkulous Bear

Let's take a look at Redonk's ballot:

Fresno St: 5000, Colorado: 3000, Presbyterian: 10000, UW: 4000, Oregon: 1000, USC: 1500, Utah: 2000, UCLA: 5000, Washington St: 5000, Oregon St: 2000, Stanford: 10000, and Arizona St: 7000.

That adds up to 53,500 wins. Redonkulous obviously cannot read directions (they were in bold too!). Next time, I'll create a gif to show you how to fill out a ballot properly. In the meantime, enjoy your ban: one year!

How did CGB's fearless leaders vote?

Your beloved mods and writers are not immune to the sunshine pumping. Across the board, our predictions were slightly improved over the spring predictions. Overall we seem to expect a 7-win season.

FSU @CU Pres @UW @UO USC Utah @UCLA WSU OSU @Furd @ASU Total wins
HydroTech 0.60 0.60 0.99 0.50 0.20 0.35 0.40 0.75 0.80 0.50 0.40 0.50 6.59
TwistNHook 0.80 0.80 0.99 0.50 0.30 0.50 0.50 0.50 0.80 0.60 0.50 0.50 7.29
Kodiak 0.70 0.70 1.00 0.60 0.20 0.40 0.60 0.70 0.90 0.60 0.51 0.51 7.46
Berkelium97 0.65 0.70 0.99 0.55 0.15 0.35 0.50 0.75 0.85 0.65 0.49 0.50 7.09
norcalnick 0.65 0.65 1.00 0.60 0.10 0.45 0.65 0.70 0.80 0.60 0.30 0.40 6.90
Ohio Bear 0.65 0.50 1.00 0.50 0.25 0.40 0.60 0.75 0.80 0.65 0.40 0.50 7.00
atomsareenough 0.75 0.80 1.00 0.70 0.25 0.33 0.67 0.80 0.85 0.70 0.40 0.45 7.70

Thanks for submitting your ballots! We'll see you in 10 days for the Cal-Fresno State report cards!