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September 17, 2011; San Francisco, CA, USA; California Golden Bears running back Brendan Bigelow (5) rushes past Presbyterian Blue Hose defensive back Fred Marshall (12) during the second quarter at AT

Pac-12 Football Preview: North No. 5 California Golden Bears

Jul 26, 2013; Culver City, CA, USA; California head coach Sonny Dykes and wide receiver Bryce Treggs speak to the media during PAC-12 media day held at the Sony Studios Lot. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 Season Preview Series

North:

6. Washington State

South:

1. Arizona State

2. USC

3. UCLA

4. Arizona

5. Utah

6. Colorado

2012 record: 3-9 (2-7 Pac-12)

Key returnees: RB Brendan Bigelow, DT Deandre Coleman, WR Chris Harper, DE Chris McCain

Key departures: WR Keenan Allen, CB Marc Anthony, QB Zach Maynard, RB Isi Sofele

Key additions: QB Jared Goff (Marin Catholic HS/Kentfield, Calif.), DE Sione Sina (College of San Mateo/Elk Grove, Calif.), OT Aaron Cochran (Buhach HS/Atwater, Calif.)

2012 season recap:

There were plenty of reasons for Jeff Tedford’s firing. The most obvious being a three-win season following five-win and seven-win ones. On top of that, Cal’s defense was one of the worst in the nation. It ranked outside the top-100 in redzone defense and third down defense, while barely cracking the top-100 in more traditional categories like points allowed (98th, 33.1) and yards allowed (93rd, 441.25).

While there is no question that 2012 was a huge disappointment, it did come with one marquee win, over then No. 25 (and future Pac-12 South champ) UCLA, 43-17. Outside of that, it was hard to find much of a silver lining to the Bears’ season. It was a case of inexperience, either. There is little turnover from last season to this one. Ultimately, the Bears needed a fresh start after going from bad to worse last season. The fans up on Tightwad Hill hope new head coach Sonny Dykes can give them that.

2013 season preview:

With a new, well, almost everything, the Bears are starting over, and it’s going to show in the standings. Dykes has a chance to bring the Bears back to relevance, but it won’t be this season. Their 2013 signing class has some upside, but not enough to make an impact in 2013. Expect running back Brendan Bigelow to shoulder most of the load on offense while Dykes tries to find the right quarterback to replace Zach Maynard.

The only thing keeping them out of the cellar in the Pac-12 North is their schedule. By facing Washington State at home and not missing Colorado, it gives the Bears two very winnable Pac-12 games. In addition to that, Cal should get at least one out-of-conference win against Portland State, allowing them to equal last year’s win total. The biggest thing going for Cal and Washington State is that while they’re bad, neither are Colorado.

2013 predicted finish: 3-9 (2-7 Pac-12), fifth in the Pac-12 North

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