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Cal Football Season Predictions, Preseason Edition: 7 Wins!

For the second season in a row we've predicted seven regular-season wins. Will we match that mark for a second consecutive season?

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Last week we asked you all to participate in our semi-annual Cal football season predictions.  We've been remarkably accurate over the past couple seasons, as we successfully predicted five wins in 2014 and seven wins in 2015.  We have again predicted seven wins this season; will our predictions once again foretell reality? I hope so.

Below I've listed each game, our average prediction (in addition to the difference from our spring predictions in parentheses), and the standard deviation.  In case you've repressed all memories from the time you spent in Evans Hall, the standard deviation measures the variation in our predictions.  Larger SDs indicate more variation (i.e. uncertainty) in our predictions.  If you've forgotten what an average is, perhaps you will feel more comfortable joining a different fanbase.

Opponent Avg. SD
Hawaii 87.8% (-0.5) 10.6
at SDSU 69.3% (-7.9) 14.2
Texas 59.9% (+2.1) 14.6
at ASU 57.9% (+2.1) 14.5
Utah 54.5% (+1.1) 14.7
at OSU 80.4% (+5.9) 13.0
Oregon 40.9% (+2.0) 18.9
at USC 30.2% (+1.4) 21.0
UW 49.9% (-1.8) 17.1
at WSU 54.5% (-0.4) 16.0
LSJU 49.4% (-3.7) 29.2
UCLA 50.9% (+0.4) 18.7
Total 6.86 wins (-0.02) 1.51

We start with our likeliest win of the season against Hawaii.  Clearly we have grown more concerned about San Diego State, as our predictions have dropped about 8% since spring.  After those two is a season filled with uncertainty.  Eight of the twelve games are toss-ups where the Bears' win chances hover between 40% and 60%.  Fortunately six of those eight are at home.  The home schedule is not an easy one, however.  In the plot below I show the spread of predictions for each game.  Texas is the likeliest win.  When Texas is the likeliest win, we have a tough home slate.

With such a brutal home schedule, I would not be surprised to see the Bears finish with a better record away from home than at home.  Winning three of these will put us in a great position to earn a bowl berth.  A bowl will still be feasible with two wins, but that scenario will require four wins away from the warm glowing warming glow of Memorial Stadium.

While the home games are all toss-ups (or worse), our predicions are more varied for the games outside the Bay Area.  Our down under date with Hawaii is, by far, the likeliest win followed by our visit to Corvallis to take on the hapless Beavers.  Trips to San Diego, Tempe, and Pullman are all toss-ups while we're less optimistic about taking on one of the least intimidating USC teams in recent memory.  If we can't beat one of Helton's teams, we may as well give up hope of ever beating the Trojans again.

Simulating the Season

Not content with our results above, I took the predictions from each game and used them to simulate the entire season. The simulation process is pretty simple. I select one prediction at random for Hawaii and use that to predict the winner. If I draw an .85, then the Bears will have an 85% chance of drawing a win. Based on that percentage, I then draw either a win or a loss for the Bears, move on to the next game, and repeat the process. I did this for each of the 12 games to simulate the season and re-ran the process 1,000,000 times to produce 1,000,000 seasons. Don't worry, though; I won't spoil which outcome is going to turn into reality.

I have plotted the results below. On the x-axis we have the number of wins and the y-axis is the probability (per our simulations) of finishing with that number of wins.

7 wins is the likeliest outcome, followed by 6 wins, then 8.  If you don't like charts (may Oski pity your everlasting soul), I've also listed the total win probabilities in the following table.

Wins Probability
0 0.00%
1 0.00%
2 0.28%
3 1.58%
4 5.47%
5 12.78%
6 20.85%
7 23.97%
8 19.47%
9 10.74%
10 3.91%
11 0.83%
12 0.08%

According to these predictions we have an 80% chance of going to a bowl game.  Not bad!


Of course, this post wouldn't be complete without handing out some awards.  We have our familiar triumvirate of awards.  People love this triumvirate.  They say it's the best triumvirate.  We have such great triumvirates here at CGB. Nobody's triumvirates are better than CGB's.  I've heard some people say that Rule of Tree doesn't even know what a triumvirate is. Sad!

Sonny Delight

First, we highlight those with the sunshine pumpiest of predictions.

Name Wins
1. C98 12.00
1. DavidShaw'sPussyStinks 12.00
1. FeedtheBeast 12.00
1. Old Bear 71 12.00
5. 0.99 11.7
6. Oski Disciple 10.6
7. Ben Lynch Ruled! 9.50
8. Cruzinbears 9.08
9. FiatLucks13 9.00
10. Panoramic Hill Sues For The Win! 8.85

Four of you saw nothing but roses this season, as Cal had a 100% chance of winning each game.  Some of these predictions at the tail end of the award seem downright feasible.  A 9-win season certainly seems possible if we get some lucky bounces (and lucky bounces off the uprights).  Either you all are getting less unrealistically optimistic or this team is finally returning to a consistent, respectable level of play.  I hope it's the latter.

Sonny Yikes!

Next we recognize the most pessimistic among us.

Name Wins
1. Caltastic 2.71
2. Nonplussed 2.98
3. papajoe 3.95
4. AGoldenBearSupreme 4.00
5. puresilence 4.35
6. ABVidale 4.40
7. chruppel 4.50
8. Antiguo Azul 4.66
9. spbdoug 4.70
10. chrisjames1724 4.85

Again, the bottom half of this table is not entirely unrealistic.  A 5-win season certainly seems possible if we get some unlucky bounces (and unlucky bounces off the uprights).  Either you all are getting less unrealistically pessimistic or this team is finally returning to a consistent, respectable level of play.  I hope it's the latter.

The Voice of Reason

Finally, we highlight those whose predictions were closest to the community average.

Name Standard Deviation
1. gph2os .067
2. BTown85 .068
3. LynchMob-510 .071
4. Bear92 .071
5. calbears .073
6. Marshawn Rodgers .073
7. Nik Jam .074
8. goldenbear43 .076
9. SuperEQ .079
10. Rf32797 .080

May your reason and wisdom guide you through what will undoubtedly be a tumultuous season full of ups and downs.  With so many toss-up games, things could get messy this season.  Fortunately the journey begins next week!  As much as I enjoy running these predictions a couple times each offseason, I'm quite ready for the season begin.  If you still have to scratch that prediction itch, make sure to fill out our weekly report cards where we'll ask you to predict the Bears' chances of winning the next game.  Until then, thanks again for participating and Go Bears!