College football bowls and polls: Okay, hopefully THIS is the last preseason assessment

We were supposed to have actual data on the team...

In the universal preseason, we covered rankings for the Golden Bears in the AP Top 25 and the Amway Coaches Poll, uncertain of when we would actually be able to see the field. Last week, we reported on the same assessments with the expectation that they would be the final week of the “preseason” for Cal. But, thanks to a positive coronavirus test and an attempt by the city of Berkeley to stem an outbreak, our should-have been-first game was cancelled and the future of our next game is unknown—meaning we don’t even know for sure if this is going to be our final “preseason” evaluation of the Bears or not. Hooray.

California maintained three votes in the AP Top 25, but drops by a significant number of other teams resulted in a jump of seven positions to 36th. The coaches, however, lost all confidence in the Bears and took away their nine points. The Colley Matrix—which ranks teams purely based on 2020 results—continues to be wholly uninformative as there is no data on the Bears; California dropped here purely because of active teams that were able to move above us.

As for bowl projections, CBS Sports now has us facing off against the Boise State Broncos in the Los Angeles Bowl. As has been well-documented and oft-discussed, the Bears coaching staff has signifcant history with the Broncos; California itself, however, has no history with Boise State as the schools have never played one another. Boise State’s OC is currently Eric Kiesau, who was Tim DeRuyter’s OC at Fresno State in 2016 and served as interim head coach there after DeRuyter’s dismissal; more relevant to Cal fans is that Kiesau was wide receivers coach here for 2002–2005 and 2011. Boise State is currently 2–1 with wins over Utah State and Air Force, but just suffered a humiliating loss to BYU, 51–17, which dropped them outside of the Top 25 (though still ahead of us).

As for ESPN, Kyle Bonagura is steadfast in last week’s prediction that California will take on Wake Forest in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl. Wake Forest had a bye last week, so I can just copy and paste my blurb from last week.

There, we would face off against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Wake Forest is 4–2—starting the season with a loss to no. 1 Clemson and a three-point loss to NC State—and are lucky that they get to avoid Luc Bequette and Boston College in ACC play. This would be yet another first-time match-up for California.

(Rob proved on Saturday’s NOT Cal–UW watch-along that he doesn’t read my work or he would see in the above link that I did cover the Cal–Oklahoma State projection.)

While Bonagura didn’t change, Mark Schlabach—his ESPN running mate—does have a different projection for us. According to him, the Golden Bears will take on our friends of the Ole Miss Rebels at the Las Vegas Bowl. They’re coached by Lane Kiffin—whom we should all be familiar with for his several years at USC (assistant coach from 2001–2006 and head coach from 2010–2013). But really, they’re old friends because we played them twice in our programs’ histories—both games coming in the past three years and both games being victories for the Bears. Ole Miss is 2–4 in their SEC-only season with wins over Kentucky and Vanderbilt, but losses to Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, and Auburn.

All three projections have the Bears facing a team with whom we have very little history. Let’s hope that in a week’s time, we have some actual data on the Bears to serve as basis for these evals.