1. Cal will win at least one game as a double-digit underdog. Sonny Dykes was pretty predictable. If Cal were a solid underdog (say more than a touchdown) and bloggers weren’t stealing the opponent’s plays, they generally lost.
Cal is not going to be favored a lot this season. Cal will probably be underdogs in 75% of their games—and by decided margins. But the Bears are spunkier, they are better coached, and they will have a chip on their shoulder to prove they were better.
It’s hard for me to see North Carolina as a double digit favorite—other than homefield advantage, they have as many question marks as we do.
2. Cal will have one of the most improved defenses in college football, top-six in the Pac-12. Cal doesn’t have the depth, but they have the talent in the starting eleven to really turn things around. The Bears lacked good defensive coaching the past three seasons. This changes with Justin Wilcox and Tim DeRuyter. This unit will be well-prepared and ready to execute.
3. Demetris Robertson could be a Biletnikoff finalist. I don’t think it’s crazy if Cal’s offense boils down to get the ball to Demetris by October. He’s that good and the questions marks are deep at almost every other spot (quarterback and offensive line, which will in turn slow down the run game).
4. The Pac-12 is not that good. Cal can make a bowl game. There’s USC. There’s Washington. There’s Stanford. There’s Washington State. Then there’s flotsam.
UCLA might be good. Colorado might be good. Oregon might be good. Washington State is probably good, but you never know. Oregon State and Arizona (two of Cal’s easiest opponents) come to Berkeley. North Carolina and Ole Miss seem hard on paper, but these all feel like games Cal could potentially win if they come in focused.
Speaking of the Trees...
5. Cal will beat Stanford. Sure, why not. Stanford beat the snot out of a team that probably deserved an audience on Friday Night Lights in Australia, but this team is still a bit weaker than its earlier incarnations. If Cal can stop the Stanford run (grumble Ron Gould grumble) and get this into a grind-it-out game, Justin Wilcox has proven that he can hang with David Shaw as a defensive coordinator. This could be a close one and with Stanford complacent from seven straight wins, this feels like the time to strike.
What are your bold predictions? Sound off in the comments.