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Recapping the 2019 Cal football season

All in all, a feel-good season with a sense of promise.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Redbox Bowl - Cal v Illinois Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the 2019 college football season officially over, let’s take an overall look at how the California Golden Bears did this year.

There’s no need to focus on the game-by-game memories—we’ll all remember the Sunday win over the Washington Huskies, beating the Ole Miss Rebels in SEC territory, the stinker against the Utah Utes, and finally winning the Big Game against the Stanfurd Cardinal.

California finished with an 8–5 (4–5 in-conference) record and a victory in the Redbox Bowl. As has been discussed at length on CGB and on our Twitter, there is an embarrassing lack of clarity in determining Pac-12 standings for non–division winners. At worst, we end in a a threeway tie for second in the Pac-12 North with Washington and Oregon State due to our 4–5 Pac-12 record. California and Washington arguably leapfrog OSU due to our superior overall records (beating OSU’s 5–7); Cal might be considered in sole possession of second over Washington thanks to our head-to-head victory. In any case, we still finish with at least a shared claim on second in the Pac-12 North—our highest rank since the conference expanded to 12 teams for the 2011 season.

Due to said ambiguities, our record either leaves us tied for third or fourth in the Pac-12 overall; the last time we finished this well in-conference was back in the Pac-10 days, finishing fourth overall in 2008. Our 8–5 record is also tied with the USC Trojans as the best overall win–loss record among Californian Pac-12 schools. (H/T Avi for pointing that one out on Twitter.)

From a national perspective, California ended the season with a little bit of recognition, placing just shy of the Top 25. Thanks to our late push (winning four of the last five games, including the Redbox Bowl), the Bears ended up ranked between 35th–39th per the AP Top 25, the Coaches Poll, and the Colley Matrix (which purports itself to be a bias-free methodology that ranks purely based on results in the 2019 season).

Let’s hope that Cal can mitigate the changes among the offensive staff with some solid continuity among returning players to build on this success in 2020. The 2019 season was our best finish in arguably over a decade and the Pac-12 may have some vulnerabilities and opportunities next year and we must take advantage of them.