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Cal Football Through the Lens of F+

2005 through 2016, where does Cal Football Stack-up?

Utah v California Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

So I have been holding out on you all. When I do the break downs of the data on each game I only use 1 of the 3 available measures used by Football Outsiders. Besides the S&P+ there is the FEI and the combination of the two: the F+ statistic. The S&P+ is a composite of explosiveness, efficiency, field position, and finishing drives, while FEI looks at each possession’s efficiency. F+ is an attempt to merge the two statistics together.

F+ data goes back to 2005 and we will look quickly into the past Cal football stats. And we will see

What Cal team was the best of the FO Era? What about the other teams?

And again, please click on the images if you would to see them in full resolution!

F+ Ranking Across Time

We can see here is that the best team of the last 11 years for Cal, relative to other teams, is the 2006 team. That’s the Lynch/Forsett/Bishop lead Cal team that notched 10 wins with losses against Tennessee, Arizona, and $C and finished the season 14th in AP Rankings. That was also the team with the most wins with the 08 team trailing behind with 9 wins. Generally speaking even with a sub-50 ranking Cal cracked 8 wins, but that was in 2009.

Team Stats Table
Split G Cmp Att Pct Yds TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg Pass Rush Pen Tot No. Yds Fum Int Tot
Offense 13 18.8 31.8 59.3 253.2 1.9 32.8 162.8 5.0 1.6 64.6 416.0 6.4 11.0 8.2 1.1 20.2 5.5 47.7 0.6 1.1 1.7
Defense 13 18.2 32.4 56.3 240.8 1.3 33.1 125.4 3.8 0.8 65.5 366.2 5.6 10.5 6.8 1.1 18.3 6.4 49.3 0.5 1.6 2.2
Difference +0.6 -0.6 +3.0 +12.4 +0.6 -0.3 +37.4 +1.2 +0.8 -0.9 +49.8 +0.8 +0.5 +1.4 0.0 +1.9 -0.9 -1.6 +0.1 -0.5 -0.5
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 6/13/2017.

And the rankings relative to wins:

And a probability distribution function graphing the F+Score on wins. This shows where relative to other teams with the same win totals across the 11 season Cal fell.

For the following 2 years, 07-08, Cal maintained its top 30 F+ status with the 08 team being ranked 21st. 2007 the team was unfortunate with a high ranking it was only able to notch 7 wins due to a series of games where they loss games by 1 possession but won against ranked Tennessee and Oregon. We can see here that mediocrity in F+, especially recently, will net Cal a 5-7 season at best. Routinely Cal had to be on the top 1/3rd of the F+ distribution to have a chance at a good win total even during the Tedford era.

Since then it was a slow slide down the drain of mediocrity with a rock bottom in 2013 during HC Dykes’ inaugural season. There was a small bounce back in 2015 where the Goffense dragged the defense to relevance and a... 8-5 season.


Let’s look into the raw score rather than ranking.

F+ score means that percentage value above the average team. Usually the average CFB Div I team is at 0. We can see that the 2015 team was on par with the 2008 team, with the 2016 team being totally mediocre.

Let’s again glance on the score on wins:

Same pattern as in the case of the raw score on rankings. We can see here that the ‘09 Season was an aberration and the ‘07 Season underperforming despite having comparable F+ Rank the 2006 and 2015 seasons.


The best team from a win and stats perspective is the 2006 team.

The most underperforming/unluckiest team was the 2007 team with good stats but poor win/loss ratio.

The worst team by a good country mile is the 2013.