After spring practice I made my predictions for the Cal season. Now that the season is upon us, I think it is time to update those predictions:
Cal 23, Tennesse 20: In a game that was not as close as the final score, Cal is able to rebound from a couple of painful defensive mistakes. Unlike last year, not all of those mistakes go for touchdowns, but do result in about 10 unearned points. Cal will come out of the tunnel pumped and ready to play while Tennessee will come out flat and over-confident. The crowd will be a huge factor both in getting the Cal players pumped up, getting Tennessee rattled in their no-huddle early in the game. Those defensive mistakes will open the door back up, but Cal will stop them flat. Change from Spring: Adjusted score down based on Tennessee’s defense seeming to gel.
Cal 38, Colorado St. 13: In a game that is reminiscent of the mid-2006 season, Cal wipes the floor with a Mountain West team that continues in its struggling ways. Change from Spring: Dropped score slightly because… well… I felt like it.
Cal 35, Louisiana Tech 17: In a game that is never in doubt, but one where Cal looks surprisingly vulnerable, Cal manages to win despite looking shakey. This one feels like the 2006 win over UCLA, somehow not inspiring despite the good outcome/score. Even though there was no reason to think Louisiana Tech would put up any more of a fight than Colorado St., Cal looks like they may have taken them for granted and was looking forward to their revenge game against Arizona the following week. Change from Spring: Increased winning margin a bit based on Cal’s strong play in fall ball on both sides.
Cal 24, Arizona 10: In a generally low scoring game, Cal manages to get their revenge for the 2006 upset over the now 2-2 Arizona Wildcats (their other loss to BYU). Generally, the Cal defense looks the best it has all year as the Arizona offense continues to struggle in Berkeley. On the downside, the Arizona defense continues to keep the Bears in check and the game is closer than Cal fans feel comfortable with. Change from Spring: Lowered Arizona score based on better feeling about Cal defense.
Cal 31, Oregon 24: Cal will similarly demoralize the Oregon Ducks like it did in 2006 and will lead this game 28-10 going into the 4th quarter. Unlike 2006, Oregon who already has one loss to Michigan and a tight game versus Fresno St., with its fans behind it, manage a strong 4th quarter with two TDs to end with a respectable score. Nevertheless, the game will have a â€œCal-Tennessee blowoutâ€ feel to it and Cal will get lots of props for the big win and will be rising in to the polls, into the middle of the top 10. Change from Spring: No change.
Cal 21, OSU 16: In a highly billed and nationally televised Pac-10 showdown of undefeated teams, a defensive struggle that is frustrating to Cal fans for itâ€™s lack of offensive fire-power, results in Cal squeeking out a victory in a game where it scores fewer times than its opposition. Despite the fact that OSU came into the game undefeated because of upset wins over ASU on the road and an over-rated UCLA at home, Calâ€™s defense proves too confusing for OSUâ€™s young QB. On the plus side, the victory can be given to the stout defense that kept OSU out of the endzone including an important mid-4th quarter goal-line stand that will have OSU fans questioning why their beloved Beavers didnâ€™t go for it on 4th down with that little time left and the potential to tie with a touchdown and two-point conversion. Calâ€™s ability to beat an undefeated team catapults it into the Top-5. Change from Spring: Increased score for OSU after their strong performance last night and probably over-rating their defense in the spring.
Cal 24, UCLA 13: Cal FINALLY wins one at the Rose Bowl upsetting the biggest home-field advantage for a Pac-10 matchup (neither road team has won this game since 1999, a 17-0 Cal/Holmoe (go figure) win in LA). The game ends up being the death-noll for a UCLA team with high expectations, it being their 3rd loss of the season (BYU and Oregon St. being the other two), as they sink into mediocrity despite having beaten Notre Dame at home the week before in a revenge game for them after the 2006 collapse in South Bend. Change from Spring: Adjusted score way down. This isn’t going to be a shootout… I don’t know what I was thinking.
Cal 31, ASU 17: Cal gets through the last of its troublesome road games in a dominating win over a highly billed ASU team. ASU turns out to be a fraud yet again despite rising in the polls on their run to 7-1 (lost was to OSU). The problem wa that ASU hadn’t played anyone worth mentioning until the played Cal. ASU then goes into a tail spin losing at least 3 of their last for games (@Oregon, @UCLA, USC and Arizona). Cal maintains its spot in the top-5 and the Cal-USC matchup starts to get the kind of billing that the Ohio State-Michigan game got last year on ABC/ESPN. Change from Spring: Changed to a win and lowered ASU’s score dramatically. The rumors from ASU’s training camp seem to suggest that it is going to take Erickson more than a year to turn around ASU into the team they have the talent to be.
Cal 31, WSU 10: Cal doesn’t overlook WSU and wins this one in a game where the score is never all that close, WSU continues their downward spiral into the Pac-10 basement at 2-7, only above Stanford. Their offense just can’t get the job done against an improving every week Cal defense. The younger Mixon brother, Terry, regrets the decision to go north instead of playing for his older brotherâ€™s school. Change from Spring: Adjusted Cal’s score up slightly.
Cal 20, USC 21: In one of the biggest heart-breakers in Cal football history, undefeated USC comes into Berkeley and beats the Bears in a very, very tight game. Cal will make one too many mistakes in a game where it was clear that Cal could have won, similar to 2004 down at the Coliseum, but just didnâ€™t play consistently enough to get the job done. USC continues on as the #1 school in the country on their way to a national championship. Nevertheless, Cal holds onto a top-10 poll spot because of the tight game that has pundits around the country saying good things about Cal, despite the loss. After the pain of the loss subsides just a bit, Cal fans keep their vomit down as they root for USC to finish out undefeated clearing the way for a Cal Rose Bowl. Change from Spring: No changes.
Cal 31, UW 13: Poor UW. Theyâ€™re wallowing in misery late in a disappointing season with very little talent. Theyâ€™re very much like the 2005 Stanford team that managed more wins than anyone expected through discipline and good coaching. Nevertheless, although theyâ€™ve managed 4 wins (Syracuse, Oregon, Arizona, Stanford) and still had a shot at a bowl game coming into their home game against Cal, there is just too much talent on the visitorâ€™s sideline and they go down fast and easy in the first half, ending their bid at bowl eligibility. Change from Spring: Adjusted Cal score down because of increased weather concerns.
Cal 37, Stanford 6: Stanford gives up their last shot at a Pac-10 win early in this blowout of epic proportions giving Cal its 6th Big Game victory in a row. In the end, Calâ€™s desire to impress the Rose Bowl committee combined with their superior coaching and talent were too much for Stanford despite their determination to get a conference win before their season comes to an end. They end the season 1-11, their only win being an uncomfortably close home game against San Jose St. in week 2. Change from Spring: No changes.
Cal 31, Michigan 17: In their first Rose Bowl since 1959, Cal crushes a vastly inferrior Michigan from the quickly losing respect Big-10, despite â€œsneakingâ€ into the spot via USC going to and winning the National Championship game. The victory over Michigan, not Wisconson as many pundits suggest because, just like many overhyped â€œalternativeâ€ Big-10 teams, they couldnâ€™t beat either Ohio State or Michigan, finishing the season 10-2. Ohio St. loses a couple of painful games to Penn State and Michigan to put them out of the running despite their powder puff non-conference schedule with Youngstown St., Akron, Kent, and their only non-conference opponent with anything resembling teeth, Washington. With the big Pac-10 wins over the SEC (Cal over Tennessee, USC over Florida or LSU) the SEC, who should have been forced to eat their words, instead complain about how beat up they get and how hard it is to bring their ‘A’ game each week. Change from Spring: Turned into a win after looking at how weak both Michigan and Big-10 look.
While I feel like my predictions got more homer-ish from the spring, I think that there are lots of reason to be VERY optimistic about this season. I think we’ll know everything we need to know by tomorrow at 6:00 PM.