Coming off a 7-5 year and another Big Game loss, Cal head coach Jeff Tedford's seat is hot.
Given his long-term success with the Golden Bears program, he has held onto his position going into next season.
However, with expectations for this Bears team rising, this year will be critical if Tedford hopes to keep his coaching job in Berkeley.
Here are five reasons why Tedford will save his job in 2012.
The Bears will be fueled by the reopening of Berkeley's Memorial Stadium, and it will give them an edge early in the season.
Next year should be much of the same for the Bears.
A favorable home schedule will have Cal knocking out Nevada and Southern Utah in its first two games of the season before heading out on the road.
Upon returning to Berkeley, the Bears will take down UCLA, Arizona State and Stanford before their showdown with Washington.
Cal will also have its home season finale against Oregon circled on its calendar. The last time the teams faced off in Memorial Stadium, the No. 1 lucky Ducks escaped with a 15-13 victory.
All season, Memorial Stadium will be electric and the student section will be raucous.
As a result, opposing teams will find victory hard to come by in Berkeley.
Improving on his superb sophomore campaign, Keenan Allen will move into college football's elite and become an All-American wide receiver next season.
A more poised QB, Zach Maynard, will lead to better chemistry with Allen, who will top the 1,500-yard receiving mark and reach double digit touchdowns next season.
With Isi Sofele pounding the ball on the ground, Cal will have play-action options that will result in some successful gambles for Allen down the field.
The Bears will also switch up the scheme from time to time and maximize Allen's potential in the Wildcat formation.
Coach Tedford will have enough confidence in his offense to take the necessary calculated risks to surprise opposing secondaries, and Allen will be the chief beneficiary.
Look for Allen to be a finalist for next season's Biletnikoff Award for the nation's top receiver.
Tedford's credibility will rise tremendously when the young Bears head to Columbus and take down the mighty Buckeyes.
Look for Ohio State to come in overconfident, which will make the Bears the perfect underdog to steal the game.
Coach Tedford will be well aware of the context. He will come up with a clever game plan that has the Bears playing to their strengths, while taking away integral components of the Buckeyes' game.
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller will underperform against the Bears defense, and inspired play from DBs Marc Anthony and Josh Hill will lead Cal to success.
Behind Cal's big offensive line, the Buckeyes linemen will lose site of quick and stocky RB Isi Sofele as he runs through Ohio State's defense.
The final score will leave Columbus speechless, and the Bears will walk away 3-0 on the season.
After losing the Big Game in the last two seasons to Andrew Luck and Stanford, the Bears will get the Axe back next season.
The Bears remember their 48-14 beatdown at the hands of Stanford the last time the teams played in Memorial Stadium.
With the memory of Stanford fans storming their field to celebrate with the victors, the Bears will be seeking revenge.
In 2012, the Bears will resoundingly beat the Luck-less Cardinal.
Look for Coach Tedford to come up with a game plan that exploits Stanford's defensive deficiencies.
Zach Maynard will have the game of his life, making former Cal QB Aaron Rodgers smile, as the southpaw runs all over the Cardinal's slow defensive line and finds receivers Keenan Allen and Maurice Harris in stride.
With solid all around performances next season, the Bears will defy their critics and finish the season in the Top 25.
It will take an incredible effort and some luck, but if the pieces fall into place, the Bears could finish 9-3 (presuming they pull off that win at Ohio State). Meanwhile, their only losses will come to perennial No. 1 USC, Pac-12 North champion Oregon and up-start Washington.
The Ducks will likely return to the Pac-12 championship next season, but not before a serious scare from the Bears.
A 9-3 season will put Cal in a respectable bowl game where a win against an elite opponent will give the Bears program some much needed respect and legitimacy.
While this could be just a pipe dream, an overachieving 2012 season should have Coach Tedford back in Berkeley's good graces.