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The prediction for this year’s Cal Golden Bears football is bright. While the team hasn’t had much success recently, this year will be a much-needed improvement. Finishing 5-7 last season left a lot to be desired and the Bears hope to finish bowl-eligible this season.

Here are the predictions for the 2018 Golden Bears:

(9/1) Game 1 vs North Carolina (W, 1-0)

This will be a relatively easy home game against the Tar Heels. After finishing last in the ACC, the Tar Heels won’t fare well on the road against the Golden Bears. The home crowd and the returning of a majority of their starters will propel Cal to a season-opening victory.

Prediction: Cal wins 24-13

(9/8) Game 2 @ BYU (W, 2-0)

This next outing at BYU will be a tough test early on. Despite finishing 4-9, BYU looks to be much improved and will not back down easily. The Bears will still be riding their victory from the previous week and come out strong. It will ultimately come down to who can make late-game stops. Cal will have a late-game defensive stand and hold off BYU in a close one.

Prediction: Cal wins 20-17

(9/15) Game 3 vs Idaho State (W, 3-0)

After a tough road win, the Bears look to a breather in a home game against Idaho State. Going 4-9 in the Big Sky does nothing to boost Idaho State’s confidence in this matchup. The Bears experience against inferior opponents will push them to a large victory.

Prediction: Cal wins 35-10

(9/29) Game 4 vs Oregon (L, 3-1)

Even with their strong start, this will be a tough outing at home for the Bears. Oregon has a top-tier QB at the helm and will push the inconsistent Cal defense to its limits. Meanwhile, QB Ross Bowers will be truly tested for the first time all season. Oregon will take an early lead and will hold on. The Cal offense will have a few good drives but will struggle to catch up at the end.

Prediction: Oregon wins 24-17

(10/6) Game 5 @ Arizona (L, 3-2)

Their tough game streak looks to continue as they head down to Tuscon. Arizona had a decent season in 2017 and look to continue that in 2018. Don’t expect Cal to come out guns blazing, as the Wildcats are very good at home. It will be close early on, but the home crowd gets into the head of the Cal offense late. If this were in Berkeley, you might see a different result.

Prediction: Arizona wins 23-14 

(10/13) Game 6 vs UCLA (W, 4-2)

This will be one of the more exciting games to watch for Cal football this year. Without Josh Rosen, UCLA will be an easier task to undertake. Although it has yet to be seen how new coach Chip Kelly will affect the team. The Cal defense will have a boost with the home crowd. Meanwhile, Bowers will take advantage of Chip Kelly’s defensive schemes to have a huge game. This will be a close and exciting game.

Prediction: Cal wins 33-28

(10/20) Game 7 @ Oregon State (W, 5-2)

This will be a cakewalk for the Golden Bears despite being on the road. After finishing 1-11 last season, Oregon State has not improved enough to pose a threat. The only real reason this might be difficult is that it is a road game for the Bears. Still, they should have a solid defensive outing, with some solid (albeit inconsistent) play from their offense in this one.

Prediction: Cal wins 27-17

(10/27) Game 8 vs Washington (L, 5-3)

This won’t be much of a contest from the beginning. Washington is the more talented team on both sides of the ball. They also have a more experienced quarterback and coach so this isn’t going to be much of a game. Cal will put up a good fight early, but in the end Washington will do what it does best, win.

Prediction: Washington wins 28-13

(11/3) Game 9 @ Washington State (L, 5-4)

Despite crushing a ranked Washington State in 2017, that was at home. Headed up to Washington State in 2018 will be a much tougher test.

This will either go one of two ways. One, the game is a close one until the very end, with Ross Bowers leading a game-winning drive. Or two, the exact opposite of last year will happen and the Golden Bears will be blown out. This will be the game where there will be unforced errors and bad mistakes. It will be over before the 4th quarter.

Prediction: Washington State wins 35-10

(11/10) Game 10 @ USC (L, 5-5)

Similarly to Washington, this game won’t be in doubt. USC is the superior team and the box score will show it. Offensively, Cal will play well, with Patrick Laird and Vic Wharton III having solid outings. However, USC’s offense with their 5-star QB will be too much for Cal to handle.

Prediction: USC wins 35-20

(11/17) Game 11 vs Stanford (L, 5-6)

This will be a much closer game than people may think. Stanford is a good team with Bryce Love in the backfield. Yet they have a tendency to lose a game or two that they shouldn’t. Still, Stanford was top in their division last year and will push Cal to their limits. Both offenses will play hard and play well. It will ultimately come down to which team is more consistent defensively and can get stops.

Prediction: Stanford Wins 27-24

(11/24) Game 12 vs Colorado (W, 6-6)

This will be the big test for Cal. They must win this game to be bowl eligible. Cal and Colorado both finished with a 5-7 record, but Cal does not look to repeat that. Head coach Justin Wilcox will push his team further than he has all season. The Bears will look to take advantage of Colorado’s bad road record and coast to a bowl berth.

Prediction: Cal wins 28-17

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Sports Al Dente 2018