The Cal Golden Bears are starting over after the Sonny Dykes era came to an end following the team’s third losing season in his four years. In steps Justin Wilcox, who earned his coaching stripes on the defensive side of the football. Wilcox will attempt to bring a fierceness on D the Golden Bears have been lacking in the past. Dykes’ Air Raid attack produced the No. 1 overall pick in Jared Goff last year and helped Davis Webb land an NFL job. But it failed to produce the required number of victories and Cal may have to take a pass in its first season under the rookie coach.
2016 Record: 5-7 SU, 5-7 ATS, 8-4 O/U
2017 Regular Season Win Total: 3.5
National Championship Odds: +200000
Odds To Win Pac-12: +50000
Cal’s best season in four years of the Dykes era was in 2015 when the Bears won eight games and the Armed Forces Bowl. Goff directed the Air Raid attack that year and put up numbers worthy of the top overall draft pick. Some regression was expected after the loss of several other players, but Dykes was starting to build something in Berkeley.
Webb was a find replacing Goff, he threw for nearly 4,300 yards and 37 touchdowns and the Bears had a nice start to the year with wins over Hawai’i, Texas and Utah in their first five. But the defense was a question mark all season and when the offense failed to deliver, the wins dried up. The Bears allowed more than 40 points in a game nine times and they fell to Arizona State and Oregon State in Pac-12 play.
A thrilling overtime win over Oregon had the Bears on the verge of bowl eligibility with a 4-3 record then the roof caved in. Cal averaged less than 26 points in its next four games while surrendering an average of 53 in the same span, losing each time. The kicker was a 66-27 thrashing at the hands of North champ Washington. Dykes’ refusal to address his team’s defensive woes eventually led to his dismissal.
The Bears overhauled their entire coaching staff with new offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, who directed one of the most potent offenses at FCS Eastern Washington. The defense also looks for major improvement under former Fresno State head man Tim DeRuyter. DeRuyter faces a tough task taking over a group that finished last in the Pac-12 in points and rushing yards allowed and needs upgrades along the line.
We could also expect the offense to take a step back with no Goff or Davis running the show. The quarterback position is a huge question mark entering 2017 with Chase Forrest and Ross Bowers battling for the No. 1 job. Wilcox and Baldwin want a more diverse attack and the QB won’t be featured as prominently. Tre Watson and Vic Enwere will look to kickstart a running game that averaged 154 yards per game in 2016.
With non-conference games against North Carolina and Ole Miss, along with the brutal Pac-12 North slate and cross-over games with USC, UCLA and Colorado, the schedule is unforgiving. There is a cupcake in FCS Weber State, but the remaining games are tough. The offense won’t be as productive and the defense needs to get better in a hurry. Reaching a bowl would be a coup for Wilcox in his first season, but another five-win campaign is the ceiling.
Week 1: Cal at North Carolina, Saturday, September 2
Week 2: Cal vs. Weber State, Saturday, September 9
Week 3: Cal vs. Ole Miss, Saturday, September 16
Week 4: Cal vs. USC, Saturday, September 23
Week 5: Cal at Oregon, Saturday, September 30
Week 6: Cal at Washington, Saturday, October 7
Week 7: Cal vs. Washington State, Friday, October 13
Week 8: Cal vs. Arizona, Saturday, October 21
Week 9: Cal at Colorado, Saturday, October 28
Week 10: Cal vs. Oregon State, Saturday, November 4
Week 11: OFF
Week 12: Cal at Stanford, Saturday, November 18
Week 13: Cal at UCLA, Friday, November 24
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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