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Cal Bears Preview – 2014

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Cal Bears Preview – 2014

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Reminder for first time readers: The CFBMatrix is built on simplicity. For predictions and previews I use only my trends and rankings of Talent, Location (schedule) and Coaching. T.L.C.


Talent: Few teams in power conference football, and no one in the Pac 12, have suffered attrition numbers on the scale of the Cal Bears. After spending $474 million dollars more than any other school in college football history to upgrade facilities, one would assume this would not be an issue. Piling on to the attrition is the worst graduation rate in Pac-12 football. There is still some talent in Berkeley; The Bears are No. 44 in my talent rankings. Their No. 18 and No. 14 classes in 2010 and 2011 brought me high hopes for Cal football, l but many in those classes never stuck. Plus, he classes since were ranked No. 27, No. 30 and hit bottom (I hope) this year at No. 47. The Bears were surprisingly crushed by early entries into the NFL, with five players bolting for the next level. The Bears do have their entire offensive line, their QB and most of their receiving and rushing yards back for 2014 (86 percent of production metrics). However, you need to temper your returning starter excitement as 86 percent of last year’s passing yards in the Pac 12 returns to the fray in 2014. I need to see better talent and better coaching before I trust these Bears to win.


Earning a minus-5 games coach effect in year one for coach Sonny Dykes was an absolute disaster. Other coaches with minus-5 or worse in 2013, included Florida’s Will Muschamp, Rutgers’ Kyle Flood and South Florida’s Willie Taggart. Since I created and started tracking my Coach Effect metrics in 2007, no first-year head coach has started minus-4 games or worse and made it to year four. That streak might be broken in 2014 by a coach or two, but until then, this is a ‘dead man walking’ start in the CFB Matrix. 2013 is a great example of fast doesn’t mean wins. Cal ran an offense that was one of the fastest pace of play in college football, but had one of the worst points-per-play rates as well. Was it lack of talent, a scheme that is not suited for this level of football or was the talent too young and they need time to learn the schemes? With most of the offense coming back to Berkeley we get our answer this year.

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Cal is really tough to project in 2014. I feel they still have talent and are acclimating to the new staff and schemes. However, the terrible 2013 season is entirely repeatable, and trends are something that I follow and endorse in the CFB Matrix.

It does not help that this schedule is brutal for Cal. Brutal. There are no breaks unless you count bad ones. I could note that they get five home games in the Pac-12 scheduling rotation, but that would be blowing sunshine up your butt as four of those games are Washington, Oregon, UCLA and Stanford.

One cupcake:  Sacramento State at home. Win

Two Out Of Conference Tests: At Northwestern and hosting BYU. I have Cal over BYU and the upset in week 1 in Chicago.  Everyone loves NU and hates Cal this year, but Fitzgerald is an average coach at home and gives away more 4th quarter comeback to cover than any other active head coach.

Four to find wins: The teams with talent rankings close to the Bears where they have a shot to win are Arizona, Washington State, Oregon State and Colorado.  The Buffs are a must win at home, but the other three are all on the road and against above average coaches.  I pick them 1-3 in those game solely on Coach Dykes Coach Effect.

Five to forget: If you just want to see great teams, get Cal season tickets.  Oregon, UCLA, Washington and Stanford all travel to Memorial Stadium and all have much higher talent ranks than the Bears. The fifth big one is at USC.  Their talent ranking is too far from any of these five to earn a pick to win these games.

Vegas will probably set the number for Cal at 2.5 with them being dogs in all but Sac State and Colorado games. I feel their team is more talented and will be much more competitive than the nation will give them credit for heading into 2014. With most of their offense back, they are going to have to outscore teams so expect some huge totals for Bear games this season.

Dave’s Quick and Dirty CFBMatrix Preview:

Seven wins on talent in the CFB Matrix and adjusted down due to two road games to 5 wins and down a third due to coach effect for a 4-8 record.

2014 Win Loss Schedule Pattern

W,W, bye, W, W, W, L, L, L, W, bye, L, L, W (-3 games Coach Effect at AZ, WSU & OSU)  Record projected 4-8 – 6th

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  1. Ryan

    August 20, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    So let me get this straight, you pick Cal to be 1-3 against the following teams: Arizona, Washington State, Oregon State, Colorado.
    Your WIN LOSS SCHEDULE is W,W,W,W,W,L,L,L,W,L,L,W – meaning Cal beats all of those teams listed above.
    And you project their final record as 4-8, which doesn’t match any of the above.

    • Dave Bartoo

      August 20, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      Yes. That is their win/loss pattern based on talent ranks and location of the game. It is a 7-5 team with a -3 game coach. Sonny was -5 last year, but that is a very extreme number and very hard to replicate. The best odds of them losing a game in which they were predicted to win on talent/location is away games against mid-level talent and good coaching. AZ, WSU and ASU are the best odds in picking those games. It takes a bit to get used to my three metrics (TLC) for predicting seasons and how I use them. Thanks Ryan! ~Dave

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