Which games are you downgrading the chances of the California Golden Bears, and where has your opinion not changed? Why?
Nick Kranz: Well, let's start with the obvious - Cal has home games against Arizona and Oregon State, and both of those programs have significant issues that should place the Bears as solid home favorites. Beyond those two games, I don't think my expectations have changed a ton. USC and Washington are still tough, tough asks. Road trips to UCLA and Oregon will be difficult as well, in part because the passing offenses of both teams will likely match up well with our iffy pass rush and questionable secondary.
There are two games that I want to flag as potential upset shots: Stanford and Colorado, because both teams are iffy enough offensively that I think Cal could turn both games into ugly, low-scoring coin flip games, a how Utah plays everybody.
Colorado's offense has looked pretty iffy (only 5.6 yards/play against Texas State? Only 17 points against Colorado St.?) and while Cal will, in all likelihood, struggle on offense, I could imagine sweating out a 19-16 type of win.
Meanwhile, predicting Stanford's demise has been a fool's errand for a solid 8 years. Still, they clearly struggle to throw the ball. And while their running game is still solid, it's not what it was with McCaffrey and Cal's run defense isn't what it was under Dykes. It wouldn't surprise me if Shaw's conservatism allowed Cal to hang around with a shot to steal the game at the end.
HydroTech: After the Weber State game, it's natural to feel worse about Cal's odds against every other team on the schedule. But I also feel like this game was a bit of an aberration. The Cal team was probably subconsciously overlooking Weber State for their big SEC matchup against Ol' Miss. That, in combination with Weber State playing balls to the wall fearless for most of the game made the outcome a lot closer than it should have been. I'm willing to chalk this one up as a weird outlier (for now), and am not reading too much into it. Obviously, if Cal wants to establish itself as a premiere Pac-12 program and a Top 25 team, these kind of games can't happen. But for a first year coach and a transition team, I think these kind of hiccups are a little more forgivable.
Ruey Yen: I may or may not have mentioned this in a previous round table, but I thought the Bears had a decent shot to get to 5 wins in 2017 with those 5 wins being UNC (tons of new players for them), Weber State, Ole Miss (given all the issues that they have on and off the field), Oregon State, and Arizona. With the better APR, I was hoping that 5-7 would be enough to get the Bears into a bowl. I don't think my opinion has changed all that much.
I am hopeful for a big Cal upset win (preferably over Stanford), but my only real impetus for this is merely the fact that Sonny Dykes (and his era of predictable results) is gone.
atomsareenough: Downgrading: USC, UCLA, Washington, Oregon
Upgrading: Stanfurd, Arizona, Wazzu
Not changed: Colorado, Oregon State
I still think UCLA and Oregon are potentially gettable, but they seem to have their acts together more than I realized a week ago, and Cal isn't quite as far along as I was hoping. I still think Stanfurd is a longshot, but their one-dimensionality may be an opening for us.
Nik Jam: Whereas Ole Miss seemed like a lean-Cal after the UNC game, I think Ole Miss is rightfully the favorite next week. I still think Cal can win the game though.
I always figured the USC game was too soon to imagine that Cal would have the maturity and personnel to hang with the Trojans. I am hopeful they can at least give the Trojans enough of a scare to make attending the game worth it. The team should still win some conference games, especially the home games against OSU and Arizona. I think by the end of the season the team will make enough improvements that Stanford and UCLA won't seem impossible.
ragnarok: Well, given their struggles, I'm more optimistic about beating Oregon State. I was honestly surprised they weren't an underdog to Minnesota last weekend, even at home. Arizona, too, I feel a little more confident about.
Most of my other opinions are relatively unchanged. Stanfurd has been mentioned by others as looking a little more winnable, but I've seen Furd struggle during September before, only to be rolling come November.
boomtho: I've probably downgraded my expectations back to where I was pre-UNC. That means I expect Cal to beat Arizona and Oregon State, to be in toss-ups with Colorado and Ole Miss, and be fairly significant underdogs vs the rest (although who the hell knows at all with UCLA?)