Justin Wilcox's first season at the helm of the California football program will be far from a cakewalk. On Wednesday morning, the Pac-12 released its full slate of games for the 2017-18 season, and after the Bears start the season on the road against North Carolina, they return home for Weber State on Sat., Sept. 9, against Weber State, and then host former inside receivers coach Jacob Peeler and Mississippi Rebels on Sat., Sept. 16. 2017 will be the first time that Cal has played each of those three non-conference opponents.
Then, the Pac-12 schedule begins in earnest, with Cal opening at home against Wilcox's one-time employer, and Rose Bowl Champion, USC, on Sat., Sept. 23.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1746796-five-takeaways-hir... The Trojans, who went 10-3 overall and 7-2 in Pac-12 play last season, were the hottest team down the stretch in 2016, and though they didn't make the College Football Playoff due to a 1-3 start, emerged as a contender thanks to redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold. Though the Trojans will be without both tackles (Chad Wheeler and Zach Banner), and the dynamic pairing of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adoree Jackson, all of whom are leaving for the NFL, USC is expected to be a preseason top-10 team, thanks to Daniel Imatorbhebhe and his brother Josh Imatorbhebhe, as well as the deadly Deontay Burnett, who has hurt Cal in two straight seasons.
Wilcox was defensive coordinator at USC for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, following Steve Sarkisian down from Washington, before being relieved of his duties by Clay Helton following the 2015 campaign, and heading to Wisconsin a month later.
After the Trojans, Cal hits the road for back-to-back road trips to Oregon, on Sat., Sept. 30, and Washington (another former Wilcox employer), on Sat., Oct. 7. The Ducks will be under first-year head coach Willie Taggart, whose tenure has started under a dark cloud, with three players hospitalized after the team's first offseason conditioning workout under the new regime late last week.
The Huskies, who are trying to hold on to co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake from coming to Berkeley, will still be loaded on defense, but they will be losing the heart of that defense in Budda Baker, Elijah Qualls and Sidney Jones. That said, Chris Petersen -- Wilcox's former employer at Boise State -- still has quarterback Jake Browning, after a semifinal exit in the College Football Playoff at the hands of Alabama this year. The Huskies went 8-1 in Pac-12 play to earn a conference title, and were 12-2 overall this last season. The heart of the Washington defense will be gone including
The Bears then come back to Memorial Stadium to face Washington State and senior quarterback Luke Falk on Fri., Oct. 13, and then Arizona on Sat., Oct. 21. The Wildcats have not seen the Bears since 2014, and they'll be without quarterback Anu Solomon, who is transferring. The Wildcats went 3-9 last season.
Cal will hit the road for Halloween weekend, heading out to one of the conference's biggest surprise teams last season in Colorado, which fell 41-10 to the Huskies in their first Pac-12 title game appearance. The Buffaloes wen 10-4 overall, and 8-1 in the Pac-12, but were blown out, 38-8, in the Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State.
After the Sat., Oct. 28 game against Colorado, the Bears come home for a Sat., Nov. 4 date against Oregon State, before getting a bye week.
Cal then ends the season with the 120th Big Game at Stanford on Sat., Nov. 18, and a road tilt at UCLA on Black Friday -- Nov. 24. The Cardinal will no longer have Christian McCaffrey (NFL Draft), and Keller Chryst went down in the Sun Bowl with a torn ACL. The Bruins will bring back a healthy Josh Rosen and a new offensive coordinator in Jedd Fisch, after firing Kennedy Polamalu.
2017 Cal Football Schedule
Day, Date – Opponent
Sat., Sept. 2 – at North Carolina
Sat., Sept. 9 – Weber State
Sat., Sept. 16 – Ole Miss
Sat., Sept. 23 – USC*+
Sat., Sept. 30 – at Oregon*
Sat., Oct. 7 – at Washington*
Fri., Oct. 13 – Washington State*
Sat., Oct. 21 – Arizona*
Sat., Oct. 28 – at Colorado*
Sat., Nov. 4 – Oregon State*^
Sat., Nov. 18 – at Stanford*
Fri., Nov. 24 – at UCLA*
Fri., Dec. 1 or Sat., Dec. 2 – Pac-12 Championship Game**