The following is from Jimmy Boyd’s website (link):
2009 California Football Predictions
By Jimmy Boyd
The Cal Golden Bears rode star running back Jahvid Best and a strong defense to a nine-win season in 2008. If the offense can achieve a little more balance to keep defenses guessing, USC’s may have finally met its match. Get my take in this 2009 college football betting preview. Cal is listed at +5,000 to win the 2009 BCS championship.
Offense - Junior running back Jahvid Best led the Pac-10 in rushing despite battling nagging foot and elbow injuries. He rushed for 1,580 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season. His 131.7 yards per game were good for third nationally. He underwent surgery on both his foot and elbow in the offseason and is expected to be 100 percent this fall. Who knows what Best can do completely healthy? A 2,000-yard campaign may not be out of the question. And who knows what he’ll be able to do if the Bears can present a passing attack for the opposition to respect. Cal’s passing attack averaged just 189.8 yards per game through the air last season (83rd nationally). Improvement is expected from Kevin Riley after gaining valuable experience last season. He threw for 1,360 yards and had a decent 14 touchdown to six interception ratio. The wide receiver corps was unproven and inexperienced last season. While they are still largely unproven, experience was gained and that usually breeds improvement. Look for breakout seasons from Nyan Boateng and Verran Tucker. The offensive line was banged up much of last season and it loses All-American center Alex Mack, but plenty of talent remains for the Bears to boast of the best offenses in the league.
Defense – The Bears return eight starters from a unit that ranked 23rd nationally in scoring defense (19.9 points per game) and 26th in total defense (315.2 points per game). It all starts up front with bookend defensive ends Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan. This duo is considered among the best in the country and they get great help from returning nose tackle Derrick Hill on the inside. The secondary returns all four starters and is led by one of the league’s best cornerback duos in Syd’Quan Thompson and Darian Hagan. Thompson made the Pac-10 first-team following a four interception campaign. The Bears do lose three of their four starting linebackers from 2008, but I’m not expecting much of a drop off, if any. Junior Michael Mohamed is the team’s top returning tackler, making 87 stops while starting five games and backing up all four linebacker spots last season. The program is also big on sophomore Mychal Kendricks.
Prediction: 2nd Pac-10 Conference – Cal won nine games with teams stacked to stop their running attack. With an improved passing attack to keep the opposition honest, I expect Cal to be even better. We’ll find out what the Bears are made of early as they open Pac-10 play at Oregon and then return home to play USC. If they can get one of those two and then win out, Cal could find itself in the Rose Bowl for the first time in fifty years. Cal is listed at +400 to win the Pac-10.