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Big Game 2017 Report Card

Hopeful or cynical? Come see what the fans think about Big Game 2017

NCAA Football: California at Stanford Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Berkelium97: Many of us seem to have some dissonant responses to this loss. It was our eighth consecutive Big Game loss, but it was the closest we have come to defeating the Lobsterbacks in several years. If any one of a handful of mistakes hadn’t happened, we might all be celebrating the triumphant return of the Axe. So how do we reconcile yet another loss to LSJU with a Cal team that clearly has a bright future under the Wilcox regime?

Category Score
Pass offense 53.12%
Run offense 73.85%
Pass defense 61.79%
Run defense 68.65%
Special teams 63.24%
Coaching 73.32%
Overall 64.03%
Win chance vs. UCLA 57.11% (+12.61)

If I had chosen these scores at random from one of our past games, I’d be inclined to think this was a win. Patrick Laird put on a performance of Vereenian magnitude to earn the highest grade of the week. The coaches clearly put that extra week of preparation to good use and were rewarded with the second-highest score of the week. Bowers and the passing game earned the only non-passing (no pun intended) score of the week. If he can improve his pocket presence and downfield accuracy, this could be a special team next year. All the pieces are there for a strong team, but the passing game has consistently been the lowest score in these report cards.

Our expectations of a win against the Los Angeles State Normal School have increased from preseason to move the Bears from slight underdogs to slight favorites. Amusingly, the predictions of a win were about 50% until Sunday morning. After Jim Mora was given $11m to stay as far away from Westwood as possible, the average predictions jumped to 63%.


Per tradition, we have three awards to hand out: one that highlights the most optimistic scores, one that recognizes the lowest scores of the week, and one that identifies the report cards that were closest to the community averages.


Name Score
1. FUCK 0.00 (0.0%)
2. A$AP Bear 2.14 (30.6%)
3. PRD74 3.30 (47.1%)
3. canes 3.30 (47.1%)
5. Goldenbears02 3.75 (53.6%)

The appropriately named FUCK leads the way with the lowest score of the week.


Name Score
1. Old Bear 71 6.34 (90.6%)
2. CalBear91 6.30 (90.0%)
3. oskiwow1 5.70 (81.4%)
4. Bowlesman80 5.67 (81.0%)
5. AlohaBear 5.50 (78.6%)

I think a 90.6% may be the highest legitimate score we have ever seen in a losing effort.

The Voice of Reason

Name Deviation
1. 1988goldenbear 0.0537
2. wiata78 0.0649
3. texashaterforlife 0.0668
4. ABVidale 0.0788
5. Berkelium97 0.0789

The ever-reasonable 1988goldenbear leads the way among the VoR winners yet again. VoR regulars ABVidale and I make appearances once again. We’re so reasonable.

GoldenBearsBandwagon: Another year, another year without the axe. But there’s hope. And belief. And new goals. Let’s beat UCLA and get that bowl berth.

Gameday Experience

SG_Bear: At a suburban sports bar with around 40 Cal and 'Furd alums. Very civil. People drove from pretty far away to get there. Nobody got drunk. Nobody swore. Nobody talked $#i%. All in all, a good time. Shame about the ending. And Karen, I am sad that you forgot the words to the Cal drinking Song.

A$AP Bear: Stanford fans are just intolerable. The arrogance, the smugness, the condescension...

1988goldenbear: I'm so glad that travel plans didn't allow me to be there in person to witness the Furd douchebaggery first-hand. (But I was really hoping that my buddies would be rushing the field at the end).

Crownan: Phenomenal time. Even though I did have some obnoxious 'Furd fans around me they wilted quickly when confronted by my inner Bear

Sacman701: Maybe it was just the broadcast, but the crowd seemed awfully subdued.

GroundhogDay: Throwing things at my TV...again. Didn't help.

PRD74: I HATE the furd stadium and their gameday atmosphere. Everything that Cal has fixed with theirs, is still going on and is actually worse at this unimpressive sound sucking venue. Early in the day I felt bad that I waited too long to get better seats, but when I saw a well known Cal Bear and SF Giants executive sitting close to us AND the students and alumni who were in our area were super spirited, well, I left feeling great about our seats and the state of Cal football and its fans. Wish we had won, but next year we will be rushing the field.

Nor-Cal Scott: I enjoy tailgating in the eucalyptus groves at Furd. This is my biggest disappointment at Cal games... well, other then the L's

highly improbable: Still no Stanfurdium.

Old Bear 71: 1. Much better KO time, especially for us on the east coast. 2. It was nice to be in the game until the end. 3. Oh, the pain. 4. I am sooo tired of feeling this particular pain.

Texashaterforlife: would have been better with a win; missed the warriors game to watch this and I regret that decision.

Pass Offense

Canes: Ross Bowers still can't make long throws

Bowlesman80: Not bad on the short to medium. Bless Bowers' heart for wanting to be the big hero, but he's about 2 for 10 on high-risk, epically heroic plays. Kind of needs to stay closer to his wheelhouse. Some great receptions by the receiver corps.

Yogi Bear: A lot of it was pretty good. We were working the short outside throws and gaining yardage. We passed for some third downs. But that call for the long throw is just inexcuseable. Nothing that has happened up to today would have suggested that Bowers was capable of making that throw and as expected, he didn't. So significant downgrade because of that. Furthermore, given the time and score, there was no need to make that throw. Even if it's completed, Stanford has plenty of time to come down the field and score. Just keep grinding it down the field the way we were doing.

SG_Bear: A sloppy field and some good defensive limited the downfield threat, leading to lots of short-game. But Bowers seemed to have an up-and-down game and he seems to lock on to receivers so long that the check down no longer exists. Tough game for the kid. Hopefully he learns.

CaliforniaPaul: Poor decision by Baldwin to call that long pass play (when the run was working so well, and when Bowers has been poor on long passes this season) and poor decision by Bowers to throw it. Lack of execution on offense has been the difference between a 5 or 6 win season and an 8 win season.

BearMD: That pass on 4th quarter stung like never before. What was Bowers thinking? He doesn't have the arm, let alone try to hit a receiver with two defenders closing in on him. That pass needed mustard and it was more than lacking. This is his first year, but it's near the'd think he would have learned from the mistakes of the earlier season. We await the next QB.

AlohaBear: Bowers is probably going to get a lot of flack for the interception, but other than that, he had a pretty good game. We have no downfield threat and that really restricts the field were working with, but even so we moved the ball methodically. I have hope for next year with a Bowers led offense. He should (hopefully) make fewer bad decisions like that throw, we'll get D-Rob back to give us more downfield threat, and we'll have a year more experience on the O-line.

Crownan: Stanford is a great team this year. Shaw is a great coach. Bowers made MOSTLY great decisions but a few bad ones were the biggest factors in this game. It was not enough to keep their defense honest. This hurt our run defense... We had less than 200 yds passing. Enough said. Ross is still a young QB and he showed it. He will get better.

Gigoogly: There is no deep passing threat, that is our Achilles heel. Our receivers run routes we'll but timing/accuracy is off as the play extends downfield.

GroundhogDay: For all of Bowers's athleticism, he still can't throw beyond 20 yds with power or confidence. Those rainbows don't bring me joy. That said, Bowers has shown solid improvement (looking off defenses, accuracy, rollouts, etc.) this year.

Run Offense

@notjoecooney: Laird gave us a much more exciting performance than Love.

Bowlesman80: LAIRD! He's the man! MCMORRIS! Our must underutilized asset! Actually got more rushing yards than Furd for the first half.

CalBear91: Wow

Oskiwow1: laird contines to be a plus

BearMD: Anytime you can outrun a darkhorse Heisman candidate in Love, you've got to give him props. Laird was clearly the best RB on the field tonight.

1988goldenbear: Laird is a beast. I think we get stubborn sometimes and try the middle of the lines where we just don't match up well, but it was so great to see the gaps open for the taking.

Sacman701: Emerging as the strength of the team. The line opened nice holes and Laird hit them with authority. Only 2 of the 25 designed runs went for losses.

GroundhogDay: Thank you Patrick Laird. You are the gutsiest player on the field (full of gutsy players) - game in, game out.

Nor-Cal Scott: Without a doubt, Patrick Laird is the Bears MVP this season. I'm excited to see what he does next season with a more experienced O-line and the return of the top WR's.

Wiata78: Going for it and succeeding on 4th down is good. Two point conversion is good. Pass to someone who never catches passes might be one of those secret plays that wound up surprising no one. Except the poor receiver, who didn't have the experience to go fight for the ball. I just saw Goff throw a similar into triple coverage against the Vikings, but his receiver knocked the ball away, preventing an interception.

Mitchgobears: Laird, all day, every day.

Pass Defense

Canes: Stopping the run has a cost

Yogi Bear: We had trouble stopping their short passing game and we didn't cover their passing TD well at all.

A$AP Bear: Pass defense? Against what passes?

Oskiwow1: pass rush left Costello open

1988goldenbear: We did a fairly good job, although I don't think Costello is the best passer out there. Hicks had a good game. There was pressure, but just not enough effectiveness - it reminded me of the USC game.

Crownan: Pretty good. We held Furd to 17. Our offense needed to do their part. We held their QB to under 200 yards.

Sacman701: Not great considering that Furd isn't much of a throwing team. There weren't any egregious busts, but Costello usually had too much time to throw.

GroundhogDay: Solid...again. They gave up a lot of the short stuff, but got into it when it counted in the red zone. I get excited seeing the potential of these guys next year.

PRD74: We need a pass rush. Badly.

Nor-Cal Scott: Soft. Too much cushion. IMO, this was the worst part of the game for Cal.

Run Defense

Canes: Bryce Love's ankle has to take some credit

@notjoecooney: Holding Love to a mediocre game (by his standards) was beautiful to watch.

Bowlesman80: They get better very game. We did not get "Tated." Both defenses are what kept us in the game. As has pretty much been the case all season.

Yogi Bear: Mostly great, but we got sucked inside on Love's TD and that was a big mistake.

SG_Bear: Tough. Furd's O'line narrowed their gaps so that our blitzes couldn't slip through and it worked. Their O-line handled our D-line and blitzing backer. Kudos to our safeties and LBs for sure tackling or else it could have gotten ugly. Did so well for 3 quarters bottling up 'Furd except for Brown losing contain on Love's run. But in a game where the offense was not doing well, small mistakes spelled doom.

A$AP Bear: How did we let them end the game with a drive that lasted an eternity when we knew they were running the ball EVERY TIME?!?

Crownan: Phenomenal. Talented runners and the main part of their attack. We held the Heisman Trophy winner to his worst game all year. Their other backs were talented and we held them as well.

Gigoogly: We bottled up Love for the most part despite whatever his ridiculous yards/carry stats show, it could have been a blood bath but wasn't that speaks to the improvement on Defense. There were a few key plays where he broke one off, otherwise decent.

Nor-Cal Scott: Take away Love's long TD run and the Bears did a great job stopping the run. IMO, this was the best part of the game for Cal.

Old Bear 71: One little blurp...and whoosh!

Mitchgobears: Couldn't stop them when they needed to.

Special Teams

@notjoecooney: I was a fan of the fake punt - otherwise, good performance

SG_Bear: At least Anderson can definitely say his range is 46.9 yards.

BearMD: Matt Anderson's missed FG hurts really bad...can't expect him to be perfect, but tonight was one night we could have used his nearly perfect kicking!

1988goldenbear: It would've been nice to have that one missed FG crawl over instead of bounce back, and it woould've been awesome to have a shot at a game-winner at the end. But overall, pretty solid play. Great decision and effort by Klumph on the fake too.

Crownan: Missed kick on a crossbar kept it from overtime.

Sacman701: Fake punt was sweet. FG that came up short from 48 wasn't.

GroundhogDay: I like Anderson a lot, but after he hits the crossbar standing on the sideline immediately afterwards laughing about it looks bad. Did it cost us the game? Sure, it contributed, but I don't hold him solely responsible? No, there were lots of opportunities that we left on the table.

PRD74: Scoring champion will be remembered as that guy who missed that field goal in the Big Game when we lost by three. Unfortunately, that's the way Big Game History treats participants.

Wiata78: Something fishy about the goal post crossbar.

Old Bear 71: Two inches longer... sigh.


Bowlesman80: Hopefully the talking heads that projected Wilcox and company to be at the bottom of the barrel are making meals of their tongues. These guys can move us from good to great. And I absolutely hate that book: Good to Great. But these guys have helped make Cal football more competitive and and exciting to watch. This game was winnable pretty much right until the over-reaching heroics that got intercepted. Uh, yeah, by the way, who called that play?

Yogi Bear: Everything was pretty good other than the insistence to keep having Bowers try to throw downfield down the sidelines, which he has conclusively proven he can't do. And then the call for the long pass was just inexcuseable. You gotta know your personnel and Bowers isn't going to make that play.

SG_Bear: Kept it close with some selective gambles against a superior team where we would have loss worse without them. We had our chance and we blew it. But that's the way it goes. But I love that they were smart about it. I think this was certainly a case of good coaching, less-than-ideal execution.

CalBear91: No way you take this group of players and do any better. So proud of the team, coaches and players, and can't wait til next year, and the year after, and the year after.

A$AP Bear: Wilcox has us headed in the right direction

AlohaBear: I love the way these guys play under Wilcox.

Crownan: So proud of our coaches. This should have been a down year from last and we have a shot at a bowl going into the last game.

Gigoogly: Some questionable offensive plays squandered opportunities, but this coaching staff is good. How about that 2 point conversion and fake kick for a first down. Awesome.

Nor-Cal Scott: Coaches had the team in a position to win the game. As someone pointed out on twitter, on Love's big run Cal had 6 on the LOS and 5 about 5 yds off LOS. I'd really like to ask Wilcox & TD about that scheme and positioning.

Old Bear 71: Marvelous, just wait till nest year!!

Mitchgobears: Good preparation. They need to figure out a way to score touchdowns instead of field goals.

Overall Performance

@notjoecooney: Hey, we beat the spread and put up quite a show! For his first year, Wilcox put together a respectable game.

Bowlesman80: Love these guys. They have my faith. They were in it to the end. They did not quit. .500 is easier to accept when your team is a competitor that could easily spoil on any given Saturday. We're in a tough conference; we can hold our heads high.

SG_Bear: It's the Big Game. Winning would have been awesome. And losing it always hurts way more than others. But you know what... these boys fought hard and displayed a lot of promise. Yes a few plays could have gone better, but I felt they gave it all. I am not sure how to describe this team. But I LOVE this team. Gritty. Spirited. Fun. Fantastic coaches top to bottom. Win or lose, this is one of my favorite teams in a long time. Not 5-stars and 4-star atheletes. Former walk-ons, converted D-line men, converted safeties, 2nd and 3rd string guys being the next man up when the guy in front goes down for the season, freshmen going mano-a-mano with All-Americans. I feel that we are just one extra set of squats, 2 more hours in the film room, and one play away from greatness. And I find myself holding my breath waiting for the next play.

CalBear91: We won in all sorts of ways, and I'm proud.

CaliforniaPaul: Yes, they outperformed expectations and beat the spread. But in hindsight the only thing that matters is getting the W. If there's a massive improvement from Bowers in the offseason or a new shiny QB next year, the Bears might be competitive next season.

A$AP Bear: I am SICK of losing Big Games. 8 years is absolutely ridiculous. Stop trying to point out all the positives, just let me mope.

Oskiwow1: much better than I thought it would be

1988goldenbear: This was a winnable game, so overall it was a missed opportunity. But the fact that it WAS a winnable game is a huge tribute to the players and coaches. On to the UC Los Angeles bowl play-in game.

Gigoogly: Record losing streak. Despite the glimmers of hope, Cal lost again. No morals victories for losing by a field goal.

ABVidale: Against teams that are better than you--and as much as it pains me to say this, Stanfurd has far more talent than Cal right now--you need to score touchdowns, not field goals. Still, Cal did a far better job than UDub against Stanfurd's run game, and the future looks good.

PRD74: Wish we had won. Even if we win next week, no guarantee for a bowl game. Regardless, this team has been one of my favorites. Today's performance was gutsy and even though we fell short, well, hey, we are building for a great future. GO BEARS!

Nor-Cal Scott: A great effort by the Bears. This team epitomizes Joe Kapp's "The Bear does not quit. The Bear does not die" mantra. The football program is in great hands with Wilcox and his staff.

Texashaterforlife: one bad defensive rush play, one bad decision on a offensive pass play; but about what I expected. Considering this was the closest Cal has been in the final score difference since 2011, I have hope for next year. I am feeling heartache right now, which I have not felt since 2011, but feel optimistic when I think of the future.