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SB Nation predicts Cal to finish last in the Pac-12 North, but it’s not as bad as you think

Cal isn’t that far away.

NCAA Football: California at Oregon State Cole Elsasser-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve gone over Bill Connelly’s SB Nation preview of Cal. Connelly is favorable to the Bears for the most part and thinks they have an outside shot at a bowl game, but a rebuilding offense, an uncertain defense that is reconstructing from scratch, and an impossible schedule all stand in the way of the California Golden Bears returning to respectability in 2017.

So Connelly’s overall Pac-12 projections has Cal finishing last in the Pac-12 North, in a virtual dead heat with the Oregon State Beavers. Based on the win probabilities for each contest, Connelly has Cal winning around three (3.2) Pac-12 games, and five games in all (4.9). Oregon, Stanford and Washington are all marked around the seven to ten win range.

Here’s what the overall Pac-12 standings look like from Connelly.


Washington: 6.6 (9.5)

Stanford: 6.3 (8.7)

Oregon: 5.4 (7.8)

Washington State: 3.8 (6.1)

Oregon State: 3.3 (5.2)

California: 3.2 (4.9)


USC: 7.4 (9.6)

UCLA: 4.1 (5.9)

Colorado: 3.7 (6.1)

Utah: 3.6 (5.1)

Arizona: 3.4 (5.6)

Arizona State: 3.3 (5.2)

Cal is given the lowest mark at 4.9, trailing Utah (5.1), Oregon State (5.2), Arizona State (5.2), Arizona (5.6), and UCLA (5.9???).

That being’s not all that bad to be last.

Cal is clustered in a group of teams projected to win five to six games. That is the lowest mark for anyone in the Pac-12. An upset or two here and there, hold steady everywhere else, and Cal could easily find itself with a 6-6 or even 7-5 season, based on these projections.

Basically, it’s not so much a measure of Cal being weak, but the Pac-12 being filled with parity and the Bears not having as many markers for success. Cal is projected to win around three Pac-12 games, so find a way to get some road wins, and the Bears put themselves on the proper path.

The Bears aren’t as far off from the rest of the conference, but schedule and circumstance conspire to have them this low in early season projections. Plenty of tim to prove them all wrong!