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Cal ranks 42nd on ESPN’s Football Power Index

A far cry from a projected finish of 11-1 from CBS Sports

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

I wrote earlier this week about how I thought the CBS Sports prediction of Cal going 11-1 was #NotGreatBob. I’m here again this week writing that I think ESPN’s prediction of Cal going 6-6 is again, not too good.

ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) recently got an update, and with it, came some interesting angles in the Pac-12. First, though, let’s understand how the FPI is crafted.

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.

That’s a lot of simulations. That’s a lot of data. That’s a lot of interest to a guy like me.

Here’s how the data came out for the entire Pac-12:

That’s Cal, ranked below Stanford somehow, and projecting to finish with a record of 6-6, though a slight edge towards perhaps a 7-5 record. Either way, though, that’s a far cry from the 11-1 prediction from earlier this week.

So if CBS Sports is predicting a 1-loss season and ESPN has run 20,000 simulations to come up with 6-6, how could they differ so much and who are you going with?

I think it’s best to temper expectations but I also think it’s best to think a bit higher of this Cal team than the ESPN projection. I also broke it down game-by-game earlier this offseason as well, coming to the conclusion that 8-4 is a solid season and that would include a 5-4 conference record, probably placing them in a tie for second in the North.

Reminder that you can read those projections here.

Regardless, it is very interesting to see two major publications be so far off from one another. I know it’s May and I know that the season is still far away, but at this rate, it seems like no one in the outside media really knows what to think of this Cal team and their projection for the 2020 season.

It also then begs the question — what are your projections for the 2020 season? (Oh, and don’t say there won’t be a season, optimism only!)