What are your early feelings on Washington State? Make your Cal-WSU early predictions!
Avinash: Oh Cougars. How can you not feel bad for these guys? They've been to a Rose Bowl a few times recently, but since then? Ignominy. One bowl game in the last 13 years. 20 wins in the Pac-10 and Pac-12 since 2004 (an average of a win or two a year). You thought 2013 was miserable? Wazzu had three of those seasons in the Paul Wulff era.
There is good news and bad news for Wazzu. The Cougars aren't particularly a good team, but this Pac-12 (particularly in the North) is down and for the taking and the Cougars have a decent shot of finding 4 wins and getting to a bowl game (avoiding USC and Utah). They barely escaped a Rutgers team in the midst of insurrection and that Portland State loss is just terrible. Washington State has at least found a good field general in Luke Falk and a number one option in Gabe Marks, so their offense will be deadly in time if given time.
Mike Leach knows most of our tricks offensively, so I expect Wazzu to throw the house at us and try and scorch us like he did last year. Cal is playing their first real GOOD pocket quarterback in Luke Falk, so I expect to see a decent fall back to earth from the defense, and Goff and the Bear Raid will have to be equal to the task. The Cougar special teams continue to be horrendous though, so Trevor Davis should be able to feast again. Cal 45, Washington State 42.
Nik Jam: Cal knows they have to win and knows how a 5-0 start will make waves in the country and give them confidence. I don't think they falter. With that said, Washington State nearly beat us last year and may feel confident that they can continue to have offensive success this year, despite the new QB.
Leon Powe: Our defensive improvement and their less than mediocre opening to the season has me cautiously optimistic. 10 point win? 42-32.
Leland Wong: Cal is a better team than last year. The Cougars are a worse team than last year. We're playing them at home this year. These things considered and the fact we beat them last year on the road makes me think we should win this game. Our newfound pass rush and ballhawk secondary should make it tough for the Air Raid.
Andrew G. Miller: I haven't watched a down of Washington State football this year (which may help to explain my performance in the pick'em column), but the Cougs just don't scare me that much. We're a more complete team than last year, and we get them at home while we're riding high. Bears roll and—just for kicks—cover.
Piotr T Le: Cal definitely have to show that we can win decisively against an out-matched foe in the wake of two last minute wins.
Benwemer: This had trap game written all over it. If the bears overlook the cougs they could end this nice little win streak. However, I don't expect sonny to let that happen. The Bears will run wild in this one, dropping 60. My prediction: Cal 63, Wazzu: 35
boomtho: I have to admit I know nothing about WSU. Their offense seems to be not as potent as year's past, and they don't have even a somewhat impressive win thus far. Vegas certainly seems to give them very little chance, with Cal opening as a 2 TD favorite. I will abstain from making a prediction, but I think Cal certainly has the talent and ability to result in a comfortable win as long as they don't overlook the Cougars completely, and I trust Sonny will make sure that doesn't happen.
Ruey Yen: I don't think the Wazzu defense is anywhere as good as the Washington D (Wazzu allowed Rutgers to score 34 points and Portland State to win after all). I am fairly confident that the Bears Raid will be operating at nearly 100% efficiency comes Saturday. Now Wazzu QB Luke Falk is not quite as raw as Texas' Heard or Washington's Browning since he got 3 starts in the end of 2014, but he's still fairly inexperienced. I suspect he will make mistakes that the Cal defense would be able to capitalize at times.
Therefore, despite the curse of Cal being ranked again, I see the Bears extending the win streak to 5 to open this year. Bears will #drop50 and while Wazzu will have a few good drives, ultimately this will be a comfortable victory.
Cal 52, Wazzu 35
KWBears: We'll cream the Cougars - it won't even be a content. As long as our guys are focused and don't focus on the Utah game, they should annihilate WSU on our Homecoming. I'm predicting that Cal wins by at least 25 points.
Has Cal's 4-0 start changed your preseason expectations of this team? Do you think they're better, worse, or about where you thought they'd be a month ago? Looking at our remaining schedule, what do you think we're capable of doing?
Avinash: I feel much better about Cal's chances to get to #8WinsAndABowl after surviving our Austin-Seattle road trip. The defense is not going to be the utter tire fire it was last year, meaning we have the capability to beat good teams. Cal should be able to win at least three of their final home games--ASU is a huge work in progress, Oregon State is only capable of one good half, and Cal needs to beat Washington State. If the Bears do not finish their home slate 5-1 I'd be really disappointed. That'll be seven wins right there.
Here's the tricky part: Cal will be decided underdogs against Utah, Oregon, UCLA, Stanford, and USC. Utah might be the most complete team in the Pac-12. Aside from quarterback, UCLA has the advantage at pretty much every other skill position. USC has an offense that is ready to shred everything in its wake. I don't care how bad Oregon looked on Saturday--the Ducks will figure things out over the next month, their schedule is really soft and they are still very much in the hunt for the North. The Big Game is winnable but we will have to bring our A++ game--the Trees are going to be favored to win the North at this point.
The sooner Cal secures bowl eligibility, the better I feel they'll play come the tough stretch. If Cal can get to 5-0, they will feel pretty confident about a bowl game and can play balls to the wall the rest of the way. Last year after blowing the Washington game, the Bears played tighter and tighter as the weeks went along and the opponents got tougher. Securing a winning season early will allow Cal to play even better and bolder.
Nik Jam: Just win two out of three of the following: Washington State, Oregon State, Arizona State and we'll have ourselves a bowl game this season. I think they can easily do that.
Still don't see this team beating the big names like Utah and UCLA. They're going to have to prove it to me by doing it. Stanford and USC are probably the likeliest upsets but 6-6/7-5 is still the bar for me.
Leon Powe: I think we're better than where I thought we'd be - but Utah, UCLA, USC, Oregon - that's a hell of a 4 game stretch, and it's very possible we go 0-4 during that stretch. I'm not as worries about the record as I am about the team morale and attitude in the midst of a 4 game stretch like that. If we had a WSU, ASU or OSU in the middle of the stretch, I'd feel a lot better.
Leland Wong: In terms of just wins and losses, I'm not exactly stunned to be 4-0 right now; my preseason expectation was that we'd open the season 3-1 or 4-0,. Looking ahead to WSU, I actually thought they'd be our toughest opponent in our opening five-game stretch. Then we saw them Coug it up against Portland State (and we had the bad circumstances of having to face that new-look Texas offense completely blindly) and that prediction looks pretty silly.
I'm not saying the Bear Raid sucks and maybe my standards were just set a little high (Just because I'm used to attaining perfection, doesn't mean it's fair for me to expect the same of others.), but the offense has been underperforming a tad compared to what I expected. But that being said, the defense is playing better than I expected and helping to make up the difference.
Looking at our upcoming eight games, I could see us winning about five; however, that has more to do with other teams looking worse than us looking particularly amazing. So, come on, rest of the Pac-12--derp it up!
Benwemer: I would have to say they are about the same as I thought they were going to be. I thought they would go 4-0 but Im happy with the performance so far and especially on defense. Wow after we play the cougs the schedule get's incredibly hard. At Utah then at Ucla, home vs Usc then to Eugene. That's a 4 week stretch where Cal will not be favored once. Keep in mind we also have to play Stanford and ASU. It get's tough but cal will pull out some victories. I believe they will finish with around 7-8 wins and a bowl bid.
Andrew G. Miller: Cal's September opponents are a combined 6-10. Their October slate? 13-2. Relish that sweet sweet undefeated start, because things are about to get hairy. The eye test says the Bears are significantly better than last year (especially if you close your eyes in the fourth quarter), but we won't really know until at least the Utah game. If we can stay healthy and clean up some of this special teams nonsense, I see no reason why we can't dream of eight (or more?!) wins. That said, I can also see a clear path to 6-6 and a December trip to Las Vegas. We all feel pretty good about going bowling, right? Just keep rolling on.
Piotr T Le: No, I think we are still going through the easy part of the schedule. Injuries to both of our starting tackles are worrying as well as the question of whether our defense continues to take and take. Against the likes of Utah, UCLA, USC, and yes Oregon and even ASU we cannot let ourselves let 21 point leads slip away. We know how to gain leads, now it is time for us to learn how to keep them. I still expect a 8-4 campaign with a win or two against the other California schools.
boomtho: I expected us to be 4-0 once the season started and we saw how bad UT was, but I think the team has still exceeded my expectations. Goff has somehow pushed his game to the next level, and the defense looks like, while they may give up chunk yardage, they at least have the ability to force turnovers, which could be huge this year.
However - and others have pointed out - the schedule gets BRUTAL after WSU. I could easily see us going 0-4 between the Utah game (and holy hell - they looked great this weekend) and Oregon.
Ruey Yen: I thought the Bears have a good shot of going 5-0 to start the year (including a huge revenge win at Texas) and we are on the verge of doing so. Like others have pointed out, the schedule has as much say about this good start as anything else. Now what is particularly fun about college sports vs. pro sports is how in college, one can often see real growth of the team over the course of the season. The Bears have plenty of growth to do still and if they can do that, I think this dream start will continue on to October (the Bears may be able to win 2 games during that tough Utah, Oregon, USC, UCLA stretch).
Nevertheless, making a bowl is just one of my two criterion for a good season; the other one is whether we can beat Stanford. Given the early season Jekyll/Hyde performance of Stanford, I really don't know what to expect. I would just say that the Bears are performing well enough that I am still hopeful.
KWBears: I expected Cal to go 4-1 before heading into the gauntlet of tough Pac-12 games (starting with Utah) - the one loss being to Texas. So, I would have to say that Cal is performing better than I had predicted. Looking ahead, I'm still not sure we can hang with the top dogs in the conference. The good thing is that Oregon and ASU are no longer in that echelon, so I'm predicting wins against WSU, Oregon, OSU, and ASU (and maybe a win against Furd). So, I think we'll go at least 8-4 this season.