Where do we even begin? With some games, it's hard to find much that's worth over-analyzing. But that was one of the most eventful games I've ever seen. Sure, we've seen insanity. But when Cal and Colorado/Arizona/Wazzu are wildly trading scores, it's mostly just one way traffic. This game, though. This game actually had plays made by both defenses. And special teams weirdness. And replay reviews. And 4th down decisions. And personal fouls. Every other play seemed to have either an amazingly great play or an equally shocking mistake from one side or the other, or both. And that's before getting into the context of the game, both in terms of history, Cal fan psyche, and the outline of the 2015 season.
To those watching a Cal game for the first time in years: pills. You'll need to take pills, and take them until zeros on the clock.— PUNT UP SOME COMMAS (@edsbs) September 20, 2015
That's not even the kid's fault. It's Cal's. Cal didn't even touch the ball and they made that happen.— PUNT UP SOME COMMAS (@edsbs) September 20, 2015
College football, man.
I keep coming back to this thought: Cal looks like a Life on the Margins team this year. They won their easy games (btw, SDSU lost at home to South Alabama while getting out-gained by 200 yards on Saturday) and have entered the part of the schedule in which most games will be toss ups. Winning the first of those toss ups (on the road, no less!) means a great deal, but specific aspects of this team will have to improve significantly if we're going to avoid watching more of these types of insane, no-lead-is-safe games.
And if that's our fate, I'll gladly strap on the hard hat, respirator, chemical resistant gloves and steel toed boots that should be mandatory Personal Protective Equipment for those who are exposed to significant levels of Cal football.
Note: Due to Sunday's running of the 14th annual Dick Kranz Memorial Horse Race, I was unable to re-watch the game, and so my insights are more limited. Luckily there was no shortage of discussion points from this game. If I get the chance to re-watch, I might add notes next week, but no promises!
Game Theory Errata
If you believe that Jarrod Heard is at least the 4th best quarterback Cal will face this year, then it's possible that the Bears have cleared one of the biggest hurdles they will have to jump over this season. If, however, you believe that allowing a previously dysfunctional offense to total 650 yards at 7.8 yards a pop is cause of alarm, you might be a bit more pessimistic about the future of this season.
In the short term, Cal got a road win, moved halfway towards bowl eligibility, and made their fan base very, very happy. And if Cal goes on the road and beats Washington to get to 4-0, it's hard to envision a scenario in which they don't get to at least 8 regular season wins.
But I'll be totally honest: Washington scares me. Their defense is currently 8th in the country in yards/play allowed, and Jake Browning has looking progressively better in each start. There's plenty of reason to be skeptical of UW (haven't faced any legit offenses, rushing offense looks completely barren) but plenty of reason to think they can be a threat.
Washington won't score as much as Texas did. Can Cal keep scoring 40+ on the road against a better defense than they faced in Austin?
I think yes, because I'm inclined to answer any question in Jared Goff's favor when he is a prominent variable.