It has been an interesting and hectic offseason for the College football landscape. Investigations have been put in place at many major universities, threatening to cripple even some of the most prestigious programs. Jim Tressel is no more at Ohio State, stories of improper benefits seem to be popping up in every region of the country, and Miami is praying that they don’t receive the death penalty. Did I forget to mention the debacle that is unfolding in Eugene? We’ll get to that later. As we’ve been distracted by these many violations, the new season has crept up on us and we are now looking at a little under 2 weeks until kickoff. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun! The Pac-12 is once again bound for another exciting year full of surprises. Over the next week or so I will introduce you to the teams and how they will look as we embark on another voyage with the west coast’s finest.
California Golden Bears
2010 record: 5-7 (3-6)
The boys from Berkeley hope to turn it around after having the worst season under the Tedford regime. Shane Vereen was their man last year, amassing 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also averaged a shade over 5 yards-per-carry. In turn, he left for the NFL as a second round selection by the Patriots. The small in stature Isi Sofele (5’7”, 188) takes over the starting role in the backfield and looks to build off of his 338 yd on 69 carries campaign of last year. As for the play caller, Buffalo transfer Zach Maynard takes over the reigns as a junior and looks to utilize a receiving core that returns its top 2 performers: Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones.
On the defensive side of the ball they Golden Bears lost 1st round draft pick Cameron Jordan at defensive end. Luckily, they return two inside linebackers that received all-conference honors last season in Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt. Having them back in the middle of the defense should assist in stopping the run. In the secondary they return 3 of 4 starters, led by honorable mention all-conference selection Sean Cattouse.
Cal also brought in an impressive class of recruits, ranked in the top 20 by many. It is led by defensive lineman Todd Barr and Viliami Moala who expect to receive a fair amount of playing time in that rotation up front.
The Bear’s non-conference schedule does not look too challenging, facing Fresno State and Presbyterian at home and have to travel to Boulder for an odd non-conference showdown to finish up the back end of a home-and-home series. As for the Conference schedule, Tedford’s team doesn’t catch a break. They will play Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona State on the road. Their first conference game will be on September 24th in Seattle to face the Huskies.
I believe the Bears uncertainty on the offensive side of the ball, especially at the skill positions, will haunt them this year. Not only do they face a tough road schedule, but they also only have 5 home games. The Pac-12 North will be an unforgiving division this season and I don’t see Cal staying afloat once the thick of the conference schedule is upon them.
My Prediction: 5-7 (2-7), No Bowl