We're looking at the toughest three-game stretches for each Pac-12 team. Today, we'll keep things going with Cal.
Oct. 22 at UCLA
Oct. 31 vs USC
Nov. 7 at Oregon
Why it's tough: Ouch. That’s about as tough as it gets. There isn’t a shortage of ways to convey that, so let’s begin by taking a peek at Mark Schlabach’s post-spring, Too-Early Top 25. Oregon? No. 3. USC? No. 5. UCLA? No. 11. Even if you don’t agree with those rankings at this point, they reflect the general expectation for all three teams (not to mention No. 13 Arizona, No. 19 Arizona State and No. 23 Stanford).
Over the last 10 seasons, Cal is just 8-22 against the trio and just 1-11 in the last four years. Trips to UCLA and Oregon don’t make things any easier, and their current 11-game losing streak against USC is tied for the longest in the history of the series, which dates back to 1915.
For Cal fans looking for some kind of silver lining, it should be noted that the Bears have 12 days to prepare for UCLA, which, in a strange schedule quirk, is playing back-to-back Thursdays with a trip to Stanford the week before. That will also give them two extra days to prepare for USC, which will be coming off a game against a physical opponent (Utah) the Saturday before.
Odds for success: I’ve completely bought in to the direction Sonny Dykes is taking the program and Jared Goff might be the best quarterback in the country, but there’s no way to look at this objectively and not conclude the most likely scenario is 0-3. Cal played UCLA tough last year in Berkeley and put up a lot of points against Oregon, but until we see a much-improved defense this stretch feels like 1-2, at best.