Cal Football: Bowl Projections – Bears Might Face Sonny Dykes’ Team (SMU)

SMU coach Sonny Dykes was fired as Cal's head coach after the 2016 seasonPhoto by Timothy Flores - USA TODAY Sports
Jake Curtis

Cal (4-2) expects to play in a postseason game for the second straight year, and one expert projects the Bears to face former Cal coach Sonny Dykes in the postseason. 

Facing Dykes’ SMU team would be the most interesting of the Bears’ possible bowl matchups, but the possibilities are almost endless.

With Cal having a bye this weekend, we took a look at this week’s bowl projections of nine experts and were rewarded with six different possible postseason destinations and eight different possible opponents for the Bears.

One site, Sports Illustrated, is not convinced Cal will land in any bowl game. Certainly the Bears have some work to do before they are assured a bowl berth this year, which would be the first time since 2009 that the Bears play in bowl games in consecutive seasons. A 6-6 record would be enough to make Cal bowl-eligible, but with the way the Pac-12 is stacking up, that record might not guarantee Cal a bowl invitation.

Obviously it is still too early to make any meaningful prediction about bowl destinations, so bowl projections at this point are just educated guesses. That’s why there is so little agreement on where the Bears might wind up.

Only one bowl was mentioned by more than one expert as the likely postseason destination for the Bears, and that’s the Redbox Bowl in Santa Clara. That would hardly feel like a bowl at all for Cal since it could travel there by bus the day of the game.

But we’re hoping Cal faces SMU, which is coached by Sonny Dykes, who was fired as Cal’s head coach on January 8, 2017, with Cal still owing him $5.88 million. USA Today thinks Cal will face SMU in the Frisco Bowl, which is not far from the SMU’s Dallas campus.

Let’s look at where the nine sites project Cal to end up and the opponent they might face:

USA Today: Cal vs. SMU, Frisco Bowl, Dec. 20

247 Sports: Cal vs. Minnesota, Redbox Bowl (Santa Clara), Dec. 30 

College Football News: Cal vs. Indiana, Redbox Bowl (Santa Clara), Dec. 30 

Sports Illustrated: Cal not projected to be in any bowl 

ESPN (Kyle Bunagura): Cal vs. Hawaii, Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 21 

ESPN (Mark Schlabach): Cal vs. Nebraska, Redbox Bowl, Dec. 30

CBS Sports: Cal vs. North Carolina, Sun Bowl, Dec. 31 

Sporting News: Cal vs. Syracuse, Independence Bowl, Dec. 26 

Brett McMurphy: Cal vs. Air Force, Armed Forces Bowl, Jan. 4