Cal ranked 78th in preseason SP+, will face three ranked opponents this season
Rankings, a thing Cal fans don't think much about these days.
(Saturday’s Fall scrimmage content will be coming later this week).
The California Golden Bears do not get much love in any of the preseason rankings. You can count on your fingers the number of top 25 votes the Bears have received in August the last decade.
So let’s look at SP+, Bill Connelly’s predictive model for ESPN, which has been our mainstay preseason look at how the numbers are viewing Cal.
The numbers have never liked Justin Wilcox’s Cal. This year they are dropping even further.
The Bears are ranked 78th, sporting a defense projected to be top 25 at 25th, and an offense in the bottom ten in college football which ranks at 123rd.
This is not a huge surprise—Cal has lost the bulk of their offensive production and is breaking in an entirely new group of skill players and a new starting quarterback. Even though that talent has looked very promising, it isn’t proven.
Regarding past preseason SP+ rankings:
Cal was 53rd in 2021 (51st in offense, 60th in defense)
Cal was 64th in 2019 (offensive and defensive rankings not available)
Cal was 65th in 2018 (58th in offense, 63rd in defense)
Final rankings into the season go like…
You can see the last two teams dived a bit and the defense-heavy team rose a bit at the end. If the Cal offense performs well and the Cal defense just holds form, this team should see a significant rise in these rankings rather than mostly holding steady like it did in prior seasons.
With regards to normal rankings, Cal will play three top 25 teams.
Notre Dame: 5th in AP or Coaches
Oregon: 11th in AP, 12th in Coaches
USC: 14th in AP, 15th in Coaches
Cal will avoid defending Pac-12 champion Utah (7th in AP, 8th in Coaches)
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Decent chance we’ll be 5-1 at the halfway point, and in the Top25.
It's up to Cal to prove the pundits are wrong.