2012 NCAA Football Las Vegas Odds: California Golden Bears
Sunday, August 26, 2012
by Frank Martin
After 10 seasons at the helm of the California Golden Bears program, coach Jeff Tedford is starting to feel the heat ever so slightly. In 2010, Cal finished 5-7 and followed it up with a 7-6 record in 2011, its worst season since 2007. The team spent all of last season playing its home games at AT&T Park while work was being done on Memorial Stadium.
Over Tedford’s first five seasons, the Golden Bears went 43-20, three times finishing in the final AP Top 25. Over the next five, they are 36-28, missing out on a bowl two years ago, finishing fourth in the Pac-12 North last season.
Senior quarterback Zach Maynard begins his second season behind center with a greater grasp of the offense. That should help his consistency. Last season, Maynard completed 57 percent of his passes for 2,990 yards and 17 touchdowns, but he also threw 12 interceptions, 10 coming in Cal’s first eight games.
Maynard still has his half-brother, Keenan Allen, as his favorite target. An All-Pac-12 selection last season, he ranked among the nation’s leaders in receptions (98) and receiving yards (1,343), both marks ranking second in Cal history. But the other returning members of Cal’s receiving corps have combined for four career catches. Joining Maynard in the backfield is Isi Sofele, who surprised many critics last season when he rushed for over 1,322 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Bears return three starters on the line.
For the second straight season, Cal finished the year with one of the top defenses in the Pac-12. This year’s squad loses six starters from that unit including the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year, Mychal Kendricks. Kendricks led the team in tackles (107) and tackles for loss (14.5). The squad does return key components from the secondary including defensive backs Marc Anthony, Josh Hill and Steve Williams. The three combined for 131 tackles and five interceptions on the season.
The Golden Bears, who line up in a 3-4 set, lost two starters in Trevor Guyton (seventh-round pick by the Vikings) and Ernest Owusu (signed with Vikings as an undrafted free agent), but the front remains in good shape, mostly because of young talent. In 2011, defensive tackles Todd Barr and Viliami Moala ranked among the country’s best defensive tackles coming out of high school. Senior nose tackle Aaron Tipoti is an emerging star.
If the Bears can win one of two in their incredibly hard early season trip at Ohio State followed by at USC,- that should give the Bears plenty of confidence going forward, which is good, because they’re going to need it starting Oct. 20 when they hit a four-game stretch of Stanford, at Utah, Washington and Oregon. If the Bears can navigate that stretch with a 3-1 record and finish the season 10-2, they could find themselves in Los Angeles for a rematch with USC in the Pac-12 title game. But realistically, there are only six games the Bears should win — Nevada, Southern Utah, Arizona State, UCLA, at Washington State and at Oregon State.
The key is winning at Memorial Stadium. North division foes Stanford, Washington and Oregon all visit Berkeley. In all, the Golden Bears have seven home games. Win them all, or even six, and they probably position themselves for a good bowl.
Key losses: OT Mitchell Schwartz, WR Marvin Jones, LB Mychal Kendricks, LB D.J. Holt, S Sean Cattouse
- NCAA Football Betting Lines: California Golden Bears @ Stanford Cardinal
- Las Vegas NCAA Handicappers Predictions: Stanford vs California
- Week 4 College Football Predictions: California vs USC Trojans
- NCAA Football Week 3 Odds and Prediction: California at Ohio State
- NCAA Football Odds: California Golden at Arizona State