The long torture of summer sports is almost over, but we still have a little ways to go. To get things ready, I went over every single game on the Pac-12 schedule in 2016 and predicted records for each team.
I'm going to countdown how I think the teams ultimately stack up in the final regular season standings with snapshots of each team.
#12 was Oregon State
#11 was Colorado
#10 is... Cal
Prediction: 4-8 (2-7 Pac-12) fifth in North
Wins: Hawaii, at San Diego State, at Oregon State, Utah
Loses: Texas, at Arizona State, Oregon, at USC, Washington, at Washington State, Stanford, UCLA
Here is the tough thing. I think Cal is better than a 4-8 2-7 team with Davis Webb in the fold, but I go through their schedule and I just don't see a way that is fair to their opponents.
Non-conference: I think that Texas game could really be their could go either way game, but then again, you could make the same case for that with the San Diego State game.I think there is a chance they could win both of these games along with their game against Hawaii in Australia, but I will bet on them only winning one.
In-conference: The Bears got a tough shake in-conference and it may cost them a bowl game. They miss the South's two most beatable teams in Arizona and Colorado and play in the tougher North.
However, there are still winnable games on their conference schedule. Other than at USC, I don't see a game I would say I would be shocked if the Bears won. That doesn't mean I think they will win many of these though.
I will start with the games I think they win. They should be able to win at Oregon State even though I think the Beavers will put up a very tough fight, knowing it will be one of their best chances to get a conference win. I have a hard time figuring exactly what their other conference win will be, but I will go with Utah in Berkeley. The Utes will have a killer defense again, but should be very limited offensively and I think the Bears can find a way to outscore them.
Looking at loses is it breaks into two categories for me - 1. games where the Bears could pull off an upset, but should be solid underdogs and 2. games the Bears should be in, but I can't predict them winning.
1. at USC, Stanford and UCLA - It's not impossible the Bears will win any of these games, but it would be kind of crazy to predict a win in any.
2. The Bears could win any of these games, but I am not predicting them to. Arizona State, the Sun Devils will be similar to last year and almost beat a stronger Cal team on the road. Oregon, the Ducks are much more experienced and talented than the Bears. Washington, the Bears should really challenge the Huskies on the road, but the Huskies almost beat a stronger Cal team last year with an infantile roster and the Cougars are basically Cal with more experience.
How Will They Feel In December?
Not good, but not as bad as it could be. 2016 looked pretty bleak for the Bears after the mass exodus of key talent at quarterback and receiver including Jared Goff, but getting Davis Webb helped pick things back up. Winning four games and missing a bowl probably wouldn't be enough to get Sonny Dykes fired, but it won't be good, especially considering they used a grad transfer quarterback which means they will be back to square one at QB in 2017.
But all is not lost. I think the Bears are very competitive in every game and their defense finally gets to a point where it is competitive in the Pac-12. The Bears may not have made it to a bowl game, but they are in a lot better place than they were a few years ago.