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Cal football: Over or under 2.5 wins? How make-or-break is September?

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I'm guessing most of us are seeing three wins or more?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about no faith. Vegas sets Cal's win total this season at 2.5. Basically, the Golden Bears appear to only have a one to two game improvement in them this season, meaning they see us in most scenarios going 2-10 or 3-9.

Well thankfully our fans have more faith than those bookmakers, seeing us go 5-7 next season!

The question comes down to where we see the wins coming from. Let’s circle the obvious candidates, all of whom come thankfully at the start of the season.

at Northwestern: The Wildcats are better than their 5-7 record from last season, but they are still pretty vulnerable and will also have a lot riding on their opening game date with the Bears. If this was at home I’d feel pretty comfortable about winning, and even on the road I’d say we have a really good shot—Cal hasn’t been a great road team, but they’ve won their past couple of forays into Big Ten territory.

Relative odds at victory: 30%.

Sacramento State: These guys beat Oregon State in 2011 and Colorado in 2012, so there is upset potential here if we don’t bring our A-game. Cal would have been better off relegated to FCS games last season, so I’m not saying this is a win that’s in our bag.  

Relative odds at victory: 95%

at Arizona: I feel like a realist, in the sense that I believe that the Rebel Alliance was notoriously lucky they stumbled onto the son of Skywalker. Even though Arizona is replacing their quarterback and running back and their entire defensive line, I’m very skeptical of these Cal team winning a Pac-12 road game against an even decently good team. Still, if we want to prove that we are legitimate and to be feared, a win or even a respectable showing will give us much-needed confidence.

Relative odds at victory: 20%

Colorado: Win this game. Win this bloody game. Colorado was the better team on the field last season, but we were a total mess by the final weeks of November.  We should be the better team in mid-September, especially on our home field. Lose this game and Dykes is in real danger of losing the team again.

Relative odds at victory: 60%

at Washington State: Pullman is a strange place, in the sense that it’s never felt like a really tough place to play (we’ve won there even when we haven’t been very good).  But this is a potential breakout year for the Cougars and Mike Leach and Connor Halliday dressed us up and down last year. The Air Raid is a year ahead of the Bear Raid, so there is work to be done.

Relative odds at victory: 33%

Washington: Well. I don’t know. Washington never plays well in Berkeley, but we tended to play down to their level anyway. The Huskies are clearly more talented, but will they be all put together by mid-October?

Relative odds at victory: 25%

UCLA: And then…

Relative odds at victory: 10%

Oregon: The walls…

Relative odds at victory: 2%

Oregon State: Came tumbling….

Relative odds at victory: 10%

USC: Down.

Relative odds at victory: 5%

Big Game: So after we’re done with this likely long and brutal losing streak, it’s Stanford time. Talk about backloading the schedule. We should be up for this, and the Cardinal could be plenty vulnerable … or they could be competing for a Pac-12 title and we could be in the tank. It’s hard to project this far in the future, but we will be pretty big underdogs here.

Relative odds at victory: 15%

BYU: I wish this game was near the start rather than the finish. I do not like playing a game after your rivalry game, and I will write about this plenty during the season, but unless we have five wins or more, it will be tough to motivate anyone here.

Relative odds at victory: 30%

Add all the expectations together, and I have us somewhere at 3.3 wins.

So I'm pretty comfortable that we go over this year, just because I can't believe that our delta this year is only one more win. Additionally, we will be an underdog team this season, so I can definitely see us picking up an extra win this season somewhere in September/early October or near the end of the season. 

Where do you have us in the over/under? Do you have relative projections?