Cal Golden Bears vs NU Wildcats: brutally honest preview



Yes, we have real football again! FINALLY. College football begins in four days. Northwestern football is back! The Cal Golden Bears are back! The Big Ten is back! The Pac 12 is back!

And NU (remember it’s NU, STOP saying NW) vs Cal is one of the better games of this college football weekend. The spread is between 5 and 6 points, depending on who you talk to. Or don’t talk to. This is a family show here! The point is, most Big Ten and Pac 12 teams are loading up on cupcakes in week one, while Northwestern  and Cal Golden Bears are playing each other squad.


Northwestern analysis:

Northwestern has won all eight season-openers it has played under Fitzgerald, including five vs. BCS conference opponents. They’ve won nine openers in a row, and 12/14.  Venric Mark leads a very dynamic offense that……uhm, right. This was the NU offseason in a nutshell. The best player graduated and became an organized labor rights activist. The next best player got suspended. Then he left school, to be closer to home and play division II ball, and then on the same exact day the best receiver on the team suffered a season ending injury.

So how’s by you?


And then yesterday at the weekly presser, this happens:

Here’s ESPN’s Jesse Palmer and David Pollack discussing how NU football moves on from this latest saga. I joined them on media conference call yesterday to get an overall outlook on where the season could be headed.

Here’s the podcast, notice they seem to agree with me that Ohio State game has ended up being a turning point in the history of Northwestern football. It was truly a crossroads game for the program, they could have been headed in one direction, and now they’re headed in a different direction. The window for NU football appears to be closed:

Now, with the team’s best defender also out for the season, as it was announced at the press conference yesterday. I’ve revised downward my season prediction from 7-5 to 5-7 to 4-8 within the past two weeks.

Cal Golden Bears analysis:

Since this is Cal, we will have Alex Morgan at this game, right?


Yeah, I didn’t really think so.


Northwestern and California are meeting for only the third time in their programs’ histories and the second since the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1949. The Wildcats won 44-30 last year, in a very late night party that made Collin Ellis somebody that you may or may not have heard of now.

Today, Coaches Tony Franklin and and Sonny Dykes bring “The System” from the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs to Cal. “The System” got La Tech a conference championship in 2011 and put up 51.5 points and 350.8 passing yards per game in 2012.

But in 2013 the Cal Golden Bears were  1-11, 0-9 Pac-12 (6th in North)

So yeah, they’ve become the Indiana Hoosiers now of the Pac 12.


But they do have the system. The System man! The System! “we’re going to put the system on trial!”

So they have an offense that has the name  of a dating advice book

“They put a ton of stress on every defense they faced, and scored points at a feverish pace,” Fitzgerald said of the system at LTU.

Now with the Cal Golden Bears, The System will be as up tempo as any unit in the nation. That doesn’t mean they’ll be good, or score points. But The offense is unquestionably up-tempo; Louisiana Tech’s 88.6 snaps per game in 2012 was second nationally, nearly six snaps ahead of Oregon and Arizona. The speed between plays, and the inability of the defense to properly substitute, is what made much of the Bulldogs’ attack so effective. Cal put up 99 plays in the opener last year.

cal dance team

Some good and some bad on Cal from the San Jose Mercury News.

Defense, bad: Two linebackers who could have impacted this team left early, with Nick Forbes taking a medical retirement and Khairi Fortt jumping to the NFL. … Cornerback Kameron Jackson made an unexpected early leap to the pros at a position where Cal had few established replacements.

Offense, good: The receiving corps, led by Bryce Treggs (77 receptions last season) and Chris Harper (70 receptions), should be the strength of the team. Transfer Trevor Davis caught 45 passes in two seasons at Hawaii. … QB Jared Goff had a productive freshman season, and the offensive line is expected to be substantially improved.


Brutally honest prediction: Northwestern 34, Cal Golden Bears 17. Yes, it’s going to be a very long season in Evanston, but Cal is just nothing but hot garbage right now. Beating them should be a breeze.

Paul M. Banks owns and operates The Sports, which is partnered with Fox SportsYahoo! and the Chicago Tribune RedEye edition. He’s been a guest on news talk shows all across the world and been featured in hundreds of media outlets including NFL Network, Fox Sports 1 and ESPN2. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks).


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  1. Bam………BEARS 52 – NW 28

  2. So, since Cal won and is “hot garbage” what does that make northwestern now?

    Go Bears!

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