The California Golden Bears are scheduled to compete in seven games this season — and we know the first six at least at this point.
Analytics in football have been around for what feels like ages now and the general public and media are starting to grasp how to discuss the combination of them together. For college football, one of the best and most accurate ways of measuring teams is ESPN’s Football Power Index.
ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) generates an index for every team in major college football, or the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). This number measures team’s true strength on a net points scale; expected point margin vs average opponent on a neutral field.
It is said to be the measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward with the rest of each specific season. The FPI represents a value of points above or below average for a team. It also generates a projected result based upon 20,000 simulations of the rest of the season’s scheduled games, or in this case, all six of the newly-scheduled games on the Pac-12 season.
ESPN updates these numbers daily and are certainly subject to change quite rapidly in this season that is 2020.
So, utilizing the FPI, we can take a look at the projected outcomes for each of Cal’s scheduled six games this fall.
Week 1 vs Washington Huskies — 51.2% chance to win
Week 2 @ Arizona State Sun Devils — 50.8% chance to win
Week 3 @ Oregon State Beavers — 63.4% chance to win
Week 4 vs Stanford Cardinal — 47.2% chance to win
Week 5 vs Oregon Ducks — 21.9% chance to win
Week 6 @ Washington State Cougars — 56.2% chance to win
ESPN has Cal with a projected record at .500 — sitting at 3.5-3.5 based upon their simulations. Their FPI has Cal with just a 0.3% chance of winning out and just a 2.0% chance of winning the conference this season.
I’d probably flip those numbers on Washington with the numbers versus Stanford this season based upon who’s there and who’s not, but we’ll see.