California Golden Bears 2023 College Football Preview

California Golden Bears 2023 College Football Preview

July 12, 2023

2022 Recap

Record – 4-8

ATS – 7-5

The Golden Bears sprung from the gate with fire and won three of their first four games, and their only loss was a hard-fought decision at Notre Dame (L 24-17). California took an unfortunate detour to TURD TOWN and lost their next six games. The Golden Bears finished the season with a mark of 4-8 and it’s now been four years since they last posted a winning record (8-5 in 2019).

California Golden Bears 2023 Outlook


Cal struggled on offense yet again LY (#10 PAC 12 scoring offense, #9 total offense) and they only managed to book 97 YPG on the ground (dead last PAC 12). There’s a new OC in town along with a brand new QB in former TCU Horned Frog Sam Jackson and we’ll see how things go. Jackson might be a SEVEN-TOOL player, whatever that means, but he doesn’t have much experience (6 career pass attempts, 79 rush yds). RB Jaydn Ott has the potential to be one of the best in the PAC 12 (897, 5.3, 8 TD LY) and the Golden Bears have a lot of depth behind him including Oregon (!) transfer RB Byron Cardwell. Jackson gets two of his top-three WR targets back in the mix including 2nd Team PAC 12 honoree Jeremiah Hunter (965, 16.1, 5 TD). The OL play was sketchy LY (#10 sacks allowed PAC 12, couldn’t run block) but they should be better in that regard given that they return over 90 career starts.


The defense was a disappointment last season as they allowed 27.8 PPG (#6 PAC 12) and 429 YPG (#9) which was the most in each of those categories since 2017. Nine starters and 18 (!) of the top-20 tacklers are back for duty so we expect to see a much better performance in 2023. All the starters return up front and the Golden Bears hope that Brett Johnson can have a healthy campaign as he’s a very talented player that’s been ravaged by injuries. LB Jackson Sirmon (#1 tackler, 6 TFL LY) is one of the best at his position in the conference, and a talented and experienced secondary managed to add some intriguing talent during the offseason. Keep your eye on San Diego St transfer safety Patrick McMorris who was excellent during his time with the Aztecs.


This might be a problem area. They’ve gotta reload at punter and PK and there’s not much to speak about in the return units.

Schedule Analysis

Overall – YIKES. The Golden Bears have to play all four PAC 12 BIG ‘UNS (at Wash, at Utah, at Oregon, USC) and they draw Auburn (H) in non-conference action.

Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at UCLA (Nov 25)

This will be their 3rd November road test and they’ll be coming off the BIG GAME with rival Stanford.

Season Win Total

Market consensus July 12

Over 5 -120

Under 5 +100


No leanage.

If you can find a “5.5” we’d recommend at least a SMALL TASTE of the ‘under’. Five wins looks like the right number to us. The defense will be stout but the schedule is nasty.

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It’s gonna be very difficult for these guys to get to a bowl game, but not impossible. The defense will be good enough to keep them in most games so it’ll be up to the offense to show some life and come up with a few big moments in fourth quarter action. The schedule is a killer. We think they’ll fall just short of bowl eligibility but can almost guarantee that they’ll pull at least one yuuuge upset.