2019 Cal Golden Bears College Football Odds and Expert Betting Picks
2018 Record: 7-6
2019 Las Vegas Season Win Total: 5.5
2019 Season Win Total Picks NCAA Football: 'Over'
One of the biggest turnarounds in college football last year involved the California defense. Just two years ago, the Golden Bears were a disaster on that side of the ball, allowing 42.6 points and 518 yards every game. But then, over the course of about 18 months, the Bears defense turned into a salty, Top 15 unit that singlehandedly carried this team to seven wins and a bowl game.
Cal finished No. 9 in the nation in pass defense and No. 15 in total defense. They cut their points allowed by more than half from that 2016 group, surrendering just 20.6 points per game last year and holding six of their 13 opponents last year below 20 points.
The entire starting secondary comes back this year, with four three-year starters at corner and safety. That makes it the most experienced secondary in the country. The Golden Bears have almost their entire back eight returning. And if they are just as good against the pass this season, the overall defense could find itself in the Top 10.
It will need to be. Because California's offense is kind of a dumpster fire. They were No. 116 in the country in scoring at just 21.5 points per game and scored over 17 points only twice in Cal's last nine games last season. They actually won one of those nine games - upsetting No. 15 Washington State - despite not scoring an offensive touchdown.
The hope is that this year's offensive line will take a step forward. But they lost their leading rusher and top four receivers from last year's team. They don't have a single running back that attempted more than 40 rushes last year.
The Golden Bears offense won't have a lot of time to find its footing this season. They open league play in their second game, at Washington. The defense is also going to be tested with trips to Mississippi and Oregon all before Oct. 6. Throw in a Friday night home game against a seven-win Arizona State team, and Cal has a challenging opening half of the schedule.
Things start to even out a bit in the second half of the year. They have bye weeks before home games versus Oregon State and Washington State. They also host USC in what should be one of their biggest games of the season - the week before their rivalry game with Stanford.
I think Cal's defense is going to be just as solid as it was last year. I think the offense will almost accidentally be better. This program has won five or more games in five straight seasons, which would put us right around this number. I think that Cal has enough to get to six wins and back to a bowl game, so I'll play the 'over' here.
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