Polls and bowls: Last check before Cal starts football play

A look at the last set of national polls and bowl projections that are completely uneducated.

College football has continued without California and the Pac-12. Although that march included routine Top 25 polls and bowl projections for the Golden Bears, I made a conscious decision not to cover them for WFC. In part because it was so premature without knowing what our team would look like and in part because I’m regularly tempted to take some time away from the site.

But with California finally set to take the field, it’s about time to take one last look at midseason-but-preseason expectations for the team.

The Bears are receiving votes in the AP Top 25 and the Coaches Poll, but still far outside being one of the top 25 teams at 37th and 42nd, respectively. The Colley Matrix—which grades teams purely based on game results and not on the reputation of the teams or coaches—is super-boring for Cal as there is no data on us.

As for bowl projections, CBS Sports is sending us to Louisiana’s Independence Bowl to face Army. The Black Knights are 6–1 with their one loss coming against an undefeated, surging Cincinnati Bearcats. This matches a Week 4 prediction by College Football News, so here’s what I wrote about the match-up back then:

We have thrice played a service academy in bowl season, most recently in the (December) 2015 Armed Forces Bowl, when Jared Goff et al. led the team to our first bowl win since the 2008 season. Historically, the Golden Bears are 2–4 against the Black Knights; the Black Knights won our last contest (back before I was born, in 1980) and the Bears haven’t won since the 1973 and 74 seasons.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Mark Schlabach thinks our mulleted man Drew Schlegel will lead the Bears against a CFB mullet icon and purveyor of fake news, Mike Gundy and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. No. 14 Oklahoma State is 4–1, just suffering their first loss of the season in overtime to Texas (which may or may not be back). This would be our first-ever game against the Cowboys.

Kyle Bonagura—Schlabach’s ESPN buddy—is sending us to the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl for our second snack-based bowl in three years. 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.

It’s completely uncertain if fans will be allowed to attend bowl games, so this might be the first year when fan preferences aren’t dictated by potential vacations—to Shreveport, LA; San Antonio, TX; or El Paso, TX.