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Cal football media predictions: .500 team, Cactus & Vegas Bowl, Sonny Dykes coaching thoughts


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James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

What are the college football beat writers saying about the Bears?

Well. It's a mixed bag.

SB Nation's Bill Connelly has Cal somewhere at the mid-range, seeing an upper level of around eight wins. Connelly put Cal in Tier 3 with Utah, behind Tier 2 of Arizona and Utah and the top tier of Oregon, UCLA, USC, Stanford and Arizona State.

Also, you should go read his Cal preview if you're looking for great Cal content outside of CGB. A sample below.

It's easy to see the Bears improving further, but it's hard to see the win total increasing beyond about 6-6 or 7-5. If the old "defense travels" truism holds, and if defense is still Cal's bugaboo, then the schedule isn't kind: five road opponents are projected top-40 teams, and the sixth (No. 55 Washington) isn't that far off the mark. If you go 1-5 or 0-6 on the road, then you have to basically win out at home to reach a bowl, and that means going 1-1 against Arizona State and USC.

ESPN interestingly has Cal and Utah as teams on the rise, which I guess mean the same thing.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports believes Cal will go 5-7 and finish just out of the race. His blurb on the Bears.

Cal's Jared Goff, a 6-4, 215-pound junior with good feet and superb accuracy, is one of the best QBs in the country. He also would be one of my first picks if I were drafting college players in a Fantasy League format. Goff (35 TDs, 7 INTs in 2014) plays in a wide-open system with a good crew of wideouts, and the Bears' D is still really, really shaky, so expect a lot of shootouts -- and some very gaudy stat lines.

Bruce's colleague Stewart Mandel is kinder, placing Cal at 6-6. He hedged his bets with the North team that will surprise him.

My hunch is one of these three North teams -- Washington, Cal or Washington State -- will finish with a much better record than I projected, but it's hard to foresee which one.

SB Nation's Jason Kirk picks Cal to finish somewhere around 7th or 8th in the Pac-12, with Cal taking the seventh bowl slot to play in the Cactus Bowl to face Kansas State in Tempe in January 2nd. Actually, so does Mandel! Cool.

Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated pegs Cal at 6-6. And that's all the mention of Cal in this Pac-12 preview. Okay. We also get sent to the Cactus Bowl by SI to face West Virginia in a game that will never end.

The Pac-12 preview of USA Today pegs Jared Goff as the best quarterback in the conference, and outlines best and worst case scenarios.

Best case: The Golden Bears team an outstanding with an improved defense, which leads to nine wins and a second-place finish in the North Division.

Worst case: While the Bears score points, the defense again wilts in league play. A season-ending rivalry loss to Stanford spells another 5-7 finish.

USA Today has Cal in the Vegas Bowl facing Utah State. Athlon Sports has Cal in the Vegas Bowl facing Utah State. How original.

Jerry Palm of CBS Sports does not project Cal to go bowling.

For those who want some exciting opinions, Matt Hinton of Grantland did peg Cal as one of his teams on the rise.

And Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports was high on Cal as his most exciting team this year.

And we have one defender at Sports Illustrated!

However, the most exciting news seems to surround Sonny Dykes. Will Texas Tech go after him if the Red Raiders have another disappointing year and Cal succeeds?

On the flip side, the USA Today is wondering why we haven't given Sonny an extension already.

That the university hasn't already given Dykes an extension is laughable, embarrassing and potentially dangerous. It'll come during or right after the season.