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Schedule analysis: California

5/31/2011

We'll be reviewing each Pac-12 team's schedule, starting with the North Division.

Up first: California

Breakdown: six home (four conference games), six road (five conference games)

Nonconference opponents (with 2010 records)

Sept. 3 Fresno State (8-5)

Sept. 10 Colorado (5-7)*

Sept. 17 Presbyterian (2-9)

*The date at Colorado, which was scheduled before the Buffaloes joined the Pac-12, will count as a nonconference game.

North Division games

Sept. 24 at Washington

Oct. 6 at Oregon

Nov. 5 Washington State

Nov. 12 Oregon State

Nov. 19 at Stanford

Crossover South Division games

Oct. 13 USC

Oct. 22 Utah

Oct. 29 at UCLA

Nov. 25 at Arizona State

Conference misses

Colorado

Arizona

Key stretch: Most teams are better at home than on the road, but California often takes that truism to another level. Of course, while the Memorial Stadium renovation is going on, Cal won't really play at home this season. So it will be interesting to see how well the Bears do from Oct. 13 to Nov. 12 when they play four of five at their home-away-from-home, AT&T Park. Further, the lone road game, at UCLA, is certainly winnable.

Trap game: Cal crushed Colorado 52-7 last year, so Bears players and fans might be expecting an easy trip to Boulder on Sept. 10. Here's some advice: don't. The Buffaloes didn't show up in Berkeley, but that performance isn't indicative of the talent on this team. And, Golden Bears, you do know a few things about laying eggs and looking overmatched on the road when the talent ledger suggests you are not.

Sure thing: Presbyterian is not only an FCS team, it is a bad FCS team. The Bears should be able to win 100-0 if they so wish.

Analysis: Five of nine conference games are on the road. Playing at Washington, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona State means the Bears might have the toughest road schedule in the conference. Further, the opening four conference games are brutal: at Washington, at Oregon, USC and Utah. That said, most would project a 3-0 start, which could help the Bears -- and new starting QB Zach Maynard -- gain confidence. If they could steal one at Washington, and manage a split with USC and Utah, then they'd be one win from bowl eligibility as the schedule softens a bit. Still, the last two games -- at Stanford and Arizona State, back-to-back -- is a rugged, potentially momentum-killing way to end a season.