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Weekly Six Pac: The Bear Necessities

Forget about your worries and your strife

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 05 Cal at USC Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

1. A year ago, Justin Wilcox looked like the early favorite to take over as UW’s next head coach. Today, Wilcox doesn’t even appear to have steady footing in his own job at Cal. Wilcox improved in each of his first three seasons in Berkley, taking the team from five to seven to eight wins. Then came a 1-3 Covid year, followed by a descend back to five and four wins. Wilcox has a built-in excuse that Cal does not have the facilities or financial backing to compete with some of the conference heavyweights, let alone on a national stage. Nonetheless, no program likes to see a negative trend, and failure to improve this year would likely cost Wilcox his job. Write for California summarizes some of the summer buzz around their program’s head man and provides some reasons for guarded optimism.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 24 Oregon at Washington State Photo by Oliver McKenna/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2. Speaking of guarded optimism, Coug Center takes another look at projections and betting lines on the teams’ 2024 win total. Vegas set the O/U for WSU at 6.5 wins. College Football News uses an algorithm to project win totals and set WSU at a remarkably similar 6.63. The author expressed satisfaction with the idea of another seven-win season, though those in Pullman would probably like to avoid starting 7-4 and losing decisively in the Apple Cup and Bowl Game once again. And that’s without even mentioning that they blew a double-digit fourth-quarter lead against Oregon. Oh, Cuogs.

3. The intersections between UW and Oregon don’t stop there. All Cardinal ranked every starting QB Stanford is slated to face in the fall. I was curious to see how they would rank Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix since those two seem to be flip-flopped behind Caleb Williams in every other ranking or All-Conference prediction. Instead, they are tied at #2 on the schedule. For my UW-backing money, I will take Penix due to his OC continuity, whereas Nix lost the play-caller who spurred his dramatic improvement.

4. Last week, I mentioned that Troy Taylor has been off to a fast start on the recruiting trail for a first time P5 HC. The aforementioned Kenny Dillingham has made some progress in the recruiting rankings for Arizona State. The Sun Devils picked up two more strong California recruits over recent weeks to add to a haul that extends across Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, and California. ASU is now up to 15 recruits, but hasn’t logged any blue chip commits yet.

5. The transfer portal extends well beyond football. Arizona baseball was hit with a surprise entry to the transfer portal this week. Young starting pitcher Aiden May announced that he was transferring from Tucson to Corvallis. May gave up a .314 BA and an ERA over 6.00 this year, but he did strike out more than a batter per inning. Arizona also lost an assistant coach to TCU.

Northwestern v UCLA Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

6. Mick Cronin’s UCLA Bruins have been a model of consistency and stability since the coach arrived in Westwood. The team has won more games each season than the one before and Cronin already has a National Championship appearance on his resume. This year is going to test that progress and stability in a major way. The Mighty Bruin breaks down the roster reshuffling from last year’s 30-win squad. The Bruins lost five significant rotation players to the NBA (one first-round pick, two second-rounders, and two UDFAs). With only two players back who played major minutes and one significant transfer so far, UCLA will rely heavily on an incoming freshman class and two rumored front-court additions from Europe.