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Cal opens as 17.5 point underdogs to Notre Dame
The Bears are going to face a tall task at South Bend. Thankfully Cal has performed well as double-digit underdogs recently.
The California Golden Bears have generally performed well out-of-conference in the Justin Wilcox era. But there’s no doubt they’re facing their stiffest test this season in the land of Touchdown Jesus.
Vegas feels similarly. FanDuel currently situates the Bears as 17.5 point underdogs against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame is likely to start the season in the top ten, although they have a tough season opener at Columbus against Ohio State. They will have a new coach in Marcus Freeman after Brian Kelly left for LSU.
However, there is some cause for hope: Cal plays fairly well as a double-digit underdog in the Wilcox era.
The Bears are currently 9-3 against the spread, and have won four games outright when 10+ point underdogs. However,
UNC 2017, 12 point underdogs: The Bears went into Chapel Hill in Wilcox’s first game and threw the football into the skies, putting up five touchdowns and winning outright. Cal 35, North Carolina 30.
USC 2017, 16.5 point underdogs: Cal hung tough for three quarters with USC before the Trojans pulled away. Bears managed to cover the spread at the very end. USC 30, Cal 20.
Oregon 2017, 17 point underdogs. Cal could not stop the Ducks run attack, and the Bears could not run, getting outgained 328-8 on the ground in Autzen. Oregon 45, Cal 24.
Washington 2017, 28.5 point underdogs. Cal had no chance against the defending Pac-12 champs, managing nine first downs and 93 yards of offense in Seattle. Washington 38, Cal 7.
Washington State 2017, 16 point underdogs. Still one of the strangest games in Cal football history, the Bears dismantled eighth-ranked Cougars on a Friday night in the smoke in Strawberry Canyon. Cal 37, Washington State 3.
Stanford 2017, 14 point underdogs. The Bears put up a stern fight for most of the night in Palo Alto, but a late Ross Bowers interception kept Cal’s Big Game losing streak going. Farm 17, Cal 14.
Washington 2018, 11.5 point underdogs. The Cal defense kicked into high gear at home in Berkeley, keeping the eventual Pac-12 champions out of the end zone after their opening drive and getting the crucial Evan Weaver pick-six to carry them home. Cal 12, Washington 10.
Washington 2019, 13.5 point underdogs. Still one of the craziest games in Cal football history, thunder and lightning forced this one to a 2 am finish. The Cal defense behind Weaver locked UW out of the end zone in the second half, Chris Brooks (then Chris Brown) and Marcel Dancy had huge gains, and Chase Garbers provided an improbable 4th quarter comeback. Cal 20, Washington 19.
Oregon 2019, 21.5 point underdogs. Even without Chase Garbers, Cal hung tight with Oregon for nearly the entire game, leading 7-0 at halftime. But the Bears had no juice on offense and the Ducks eventually mustered enough points to pull it out. Oregon 17, Cal 7.
Utah 2019, 21 point underdogs. Cal was missing half their offense. The Bears had absolutely no chance. Utah 35, Cal 0.
TCU 2021, 11.5 point underdogs. Despite one of the best offensive performances of the Chase Garbers and Bill Musgrave era, the Horned Frogs seemed to have an answer on offense almost every time. TCU 34, Cal 32.
Oregon 2021, 13.5 point underdogs. With Cal’s bowl hopes on the verge of expiring, the Bears put up a great fight, taking a 17-10 lead early in the 4th quarter. But the defense again couldn’t hold up, as Anthony Brown led two huge 4th quarter drives and Chase Garbers’s last minute drive came up short of the end zone. Oregon 24, Cal 17.