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ESPN predicts every Cal game for 2020

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And projects a 6-6 season

NCAA Football: California at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 college football season grows increasingly more uncertain every single day. However, thanks to simulations and tons of data, we can still look at the projections of every game on the California Golden Bears schedule.

Utilizing the data from ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), we can take a look at what the analytics say will happen during Cal’s 2020 football schedule.

A reminder of how ESPN gets their FPI:

The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 20,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily. FPI data from seasons prior to 2019 may not be complete.

And, of course, we remember that ESPN’s FPI predicts quite a different outlook for Cal in 2020 than CBS Sports’ prediction that had the Bears going 11-1.

That being said, we have some data to look at from ESPN that predicts every Cal game on the 2020 schedule, and I’ll outline them below.

Week 1 @ UNLV Rebels

Projected Result (Win % Chance): WIN (83.7%)

This is the only FBS team Cal faces with an FPI lower than -1.0 and they check in with an FPI of -10.3. This is a W and the consensus should show that.

Week 2 vs TCU Horned Frogs

Projected Result (Win % Chance): LOSS (38.6%)

Tough look here as it seems the simulations are rather bullish on the TCU quarterback situation looking much better. I would be interested to see how the 5-star RB Zach Evans commitment improves the Horned Frogs chances across the board for 2020 and let’s not forget about last year’s result with basically the same offense returning for this one for Cal.

Week 3 vs Cal Poly Mustangs

Projected Result (Win % Chance): WIN (98.4%)

I get it. Simulations account for everything, including a freak accident that means all 22 starters can’t suit up for the Poly game. It’s a win, put it to bed.

Week 5 vs Utah Utes

Projected Result (Win % Chance): LOSS (47.5%)

No. I know Utah brings back a formidable defense but they lose way, way too much across the board to compete in Berkeley. I’m surprised, to say the least, that this one isn’t a win by the simulations count.

Week 6 @ Washington State Cougars

Projected Result (Win % Chance): WIN (53.2%)

Cal will be the better team when these two meet so it’s nice to see even the trip to Pullman doesn’t give the Cougs much better of a chance. Max Borghi is a threat at running back for Washington State but they have little else in terms of answers for a multitude of questions with new head coach Nick Rolovich.

Week 7 @ USC Trojans

Projected Result (Win % Chance): LOSS (14.1%)

Next.

Week 8 vs Oregon Ducks

Projected Result (Win % Chance): LOSS (16.2%)

Bringing the Ducks down to Berkeley gives the Bears a fighting chance. Let’s just hope that we can fill the stands with no fear of coronavirus and rock it so loud that Oregon feels it when they touch down in California.

Week 9 @ Oregon State Beavers

Projected Result (Win % Chance): WIN (56.9%)

The only other team on the schedule with a negative FPI figure, the trip up to Corvallis must also bring with it considerable home-field advantage for the Beavers. Oregon State is building something special but not in 2020, they need some help to win this against Cal.

Week 10 vs Washington Huskies

Projected Result (Win % Chance): LOSS (47.8%)

A much tighter prediction than I would have assumed, if we’re being honest. I know Washington has questions on offense, mainly at quarterback, but their defense is so good on paper, that I’d think Washington puts 3-4 defensive backs alone in the 2021 NFL Draft. Chase Garbers has to be on his A-game in this one.

Week 11 @ Arizona State Sun Devils

Projected Result (Win % Chance): LOSS (47.8%)

The same percentage to win this one as it is against Washington, guess that’s what the trip to the desert will do for you. The Sun Devils return Jayden Daniels but lose their top two offensive playmakers from a season ago. Eno Benjamin and Brandon Aiyuk’s production will for sure be replaced by this time in the season — but who is it replacing it? Someone other than Frank Darby has to step up.

Week 13 vs Stanford Cardinal

Projected Result (Win % Chance): WIN (52.9%)

Give the home team the advantage. Let the home team keep the Axe. I like it.

Week 14 vs UCLA Bruins

Projected Result (Win % Chance): WIN (66.0%)

As surprising as it may seem, this is the most favorable in-conference win projection at 66.0%, even more so than Oregon State. Say what you will about Chip Kelly, but if he doesn’t pull a rabbit out of his hat and win this game more than 34.0% by season’s end, his tenure in LA may be done. Cal is clearly the better team in 2020.

There we have it — that gets the Bears to 6-6 (4-5). What say you? Any games seem out of whack to you?