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ESPN pencils in Cal for the toughest college football schedule in 2017

Here we go.

California v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Another year, another hard road for Cal. The California Golden Bears have been handed the most difficult schedule for the 2017 football season, according to the ESPN FPI. This is nothing new for the Bears, who have perennially been handed one of the most difficult schedules in the country and usually are ranked among the toughest schedule in the Pac-12.

Cal is one of the few major programs facing two Power 5 programs out of conference in North Carolina (on the road) and Ole Miss (at home). Cal will get this wonderful road slate house of horrors in Pac-12 play: At UCLA (where they’ve won once in the 2000s), at Oregon (where they’ve won once since the 1990s), at Stanfurd for Big Game (where they haven’t won since 2009), at Washington (one of the major Pac-12 champion contenders), at Colorado (the defending Pac-12 South champs).

Wait! There’s more.

Cal will not get a bye week until November 11th. Cal will play three of their last nine games at home. Cal will probably be favored in only half of their home games, and if favored will be only slight favorites in most contests. Cal gets Ole Miss, USC, at Oregon, at Washington, Washington State in the span of five weeks before we hit mid-October.

And of course, Cal will play UCLA, USC and the Pac-12 North yet again. Cal and Stanfurd are the only two programs that have that arrangement, boosting up their strength of schedule relative to the rest of the conference.

It’s going to be a tough schedule to navigate. I think if the Bears could squeak out six wins with that trajectory, it would be quite the accomplishment. What do you think?