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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. Oregon

In which we now compare this week’s ratings to those in the history books.

NCAA Football: Oregon at California
I’m really disappointed that neither USA Today nor Getty has a picture of Stephen Couts. He deserves front-page recognition after that 73-yard punt.
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Before we begin, I want like to thank Mallrat92204 for suggesting that we start comparing each week’s ratings to past performance ratings. We have been doing these report cards for 9(!) seasons now, which gives us a wealth of data to use for the purposes of comparison. The timing was great, as we had a bye week which gave me some extra time to round up all our previous ratings/report card data into a single database. As we’ll see shortly, we have begun to include past performance data to see how this performance compares to previous games against Oregon, and how this compares to previous games in the Wilcox regime. But first, we must regrettably look over the numbers from our first loss of the year.

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 31.2 25.3
Rush Offense 63.5 23.8
Pass Defense 45.5 27.5
Rush Defense 52.0 25.1
Special Teams 70.5 22.7
Coaching 51.7 28.9
Overall 43.9 24.8
Win Probability vs. Arizona 56.9 (+7.8) 27.8 (+13.7)

For the second week in a row special teams leads all categories. We may not be at the level of our 2007 special teams with DeSean Jackson returning punts and Jahvid Best returning kicks, but we’re getting close. Brandon McIlwain’s 123 rushing yards (most since Joe Kapp in 1958!) helped the ground game earn the second-best scores of the day. After that, we have many mediocre scores and the second-worst pass offense score of the Wilcox era.

What particularly stands out about these ratings is how big the standard deviations are. Usually they’re in the low teens, but these are all in the mid- to high-20s. That suggests that our ratings were all over the place this week. Admittedly, it was a difficult game to judge as we had some very encouraging signs—moving the ball well, particularly on the ground, against a good Oregon defense—and some very discouraging signs—FIVE turnovers, the most since last year’s USC game, which also would have been winnable if not for all the turnovers. Even the Arizona predictions have huge standard deviations, more than double the SD from our preseason predictions.

How does this compare to past performances?

With data from over 100 games across these past several seasons we now have plenty of points of comparison, especially for our Pac-12 foes. In the chart below I have plotted our ratings from this game compared to ratings from previous games against Oregon.

Comparison of Saturday’s performance (gold) against all other performances against Oregon since 2010 (blue)

Overall, Saturday’s performance against Oregon sits somewhere between average and slightly better than average. Offense and defense sit near the median of past ratings, while special teams earned its highest ever rating against the Ducks and coaching was in a near-tie for second-best performance. The loss dampened our spirits, so the overall performance sits right near the middle.

Next I compare each category to how we’ve performed in previous games during Wilcox’s tenure at Cal.

Comparison of Saturday’s performance (gold) against all other games under Wilcox (blue)

While this was a slightly above average performance given the opponent, this was slightly below average compared to all the other games under Wilcox. Pass offense had its second-worst performance, while pass defense, coaching, and overall were slightly below average. Except for special teams’ strong performance, the rest of the categories sit around average.


While we’ve added some new material to this regular series, it wouldn’t be complete without our usual set of awards. Since we lost, we’ll recognize the pessimists first.

Old Blues

Name Rating
1. N/A 0 (0.0%)
2. nedbear 2 (0.3%)
3. Rollonyourbears111 51 (7.3%)
4. CaliforniaPaul 75 (10.7%)
5. texashaterforlife 154 (22.1%)

Despite giving a 0 in every category, N/A gave a 99% chance of beating Arizona. Keep on pumping that sunshine.

Sunshine Pumpers

Name Rating
1. Boys have penises, David Shaws have vaginas 700 (100.0%)
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
3. Bowlesman80 535 (76.4%)
4. Rugbear 530 (75.7%)
5. oski74 505 (72.1%)

100%? That’s some Leland Stanford Junior University-level grade inflation.

The Voice of Reason

Name Deviation
1. Willis Chong 6.55
2. Oso de Oro 83 7.30
3. goldenone 8.20
4. CoBears 8.95
5. wiata78 9.18

Because we had such huge deviations in the ratings this week, the standard deviations here are much larger than normal. In fact, none of these would have made it into the top-5 on a typical week.

Finally, let’s turn to your comments about the game:

Any comments on the gameday experience?

SlapHappyBear - Our fans show up for top ranked opponents. We need to make that an environment that gets in heads of all opponents. Oregon fans did travel well.

Bowlesman80 - My son and I went to Berkeley, parked in the Baggins (Underhill) garage. Since he has sensory issues and after Top Dog, some people watching, and shopping, we decided to skip the game. For all my complaints about Berkeley, I have to say this city is very good with “different” and we experienced kindness and patience from strangers, even when my son was behaving eccentrically. We were treated to several scenes of coeds in very short skirts and my son got a compliment on his eyes from a pretty clerk. Oh, the obligatory, “cliquish” crowds at Frat Rat dwellings. Our take-away, Paul and I just love gameday in Berkeley and that might be our routine in the future: Gameday in Berkeley, but skip the game. Kudos to Oregon fans, our neighbors that despite hitting the Nike lottery seem to still be mostly down-to-earth. Note to all: We still have a ways to go before we match Autzen for volume. Let’s get out there Bears!

1988goldenbear - Looks like there was a great and energetic crowd - wish I had been there despite the result.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s passing game?

BearOnAMesa - Absolutely disastrous. Bad decision making, bad throws, bad pass protection, bad plays that don’t give our WRs room to operate. Every time we seemed close to finding a groove, a bad throw would turn the ball over and halt any momentum. Really, really awful.

Lucky1715 - Garbers was throwing rainbows that were easy to intercept, telegraphing throws, etc. MacIlwain lacked a lot of accuracy overthrowing, underthrowing, and very inconsistent. I was expecting more from Ways. Again, I look at the QB coaching as one of the biggest causes.

Rugbear - Except for the INT’s it was ok. If Mac can get his completion percentage up he could be scary good.

BTown85 - 4 picks, three of which wouldn’t have been caught (by Cal) if there were no defenders on the field. Not gonna win a lot of games that way……..

RememberTheCalamo - Laird passing? Tricksie, tricksie hobbitsies. Maybe let’s not drop the ball though.

1988goldenbear - We need a QB. Or at least we need to develop a QB that won’t stick daggers in our eyes time after time. End zone picks and pick-6’s have to be the most demoralizing events in a game.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s running game?

goldenone - Passing grade

SlapHappyBear - The Bears thrived in this position. Keep it going. Would rather be utilizing the run to mix things up and managing time, and not on passing downs. Laird reads books and throws passes. ;)

sacalum - Pretty good, considering the pre-game hype about Oregon’s d-line.

Willis Chong - Set BMC free! Seriously, I thought I saw this in UNC and again, Laird has just lost a step. He seemed to do better when he was running with abandon, like in the beginning of the 3rd quarter. It has a passing score, but points off for the fumblies. It’s like it’s contagious. Or it’s like everyone is trying too hard to be something they are not and being a bit more careless. Because of those mistakes, our running game only scored a net of 7 points instead of maybe +21 or even +28. (Yes, I know I really should be counting by 6s.)

What are your thoughts on Cal’s pass defense?

BearOnAMesa - Look, Herbert’s really good. He’s the best quarterback we’ll see all year. So we’re grading on a curve here. But Cal pretty much never got a stop on third down by breaking up a pass.

mrjpark - They did about as well as could be expected against a QB like Herbert.

FrmrG8r - ZERO pressure up front. Unfair to ask the secondary to cover that long. Where in the world were the blitzes tonight?????

BTown85 - We never really pressured the QB which is what we needed to do to have a chance…….

What are your thoughts on Cal’s run defense?

ToddMal - Take away the 2 big runs (74 & 45) and they did pretty well.

texashaterforlife - Not bad, just your average missed assignments at times, and poor tackling late in the game due to conditioning. The two inside linebackers however are STUDS.

1988goldenbear - Not too bad overall, but those two long runs were demoralizing.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s special teams?

Lucky1715 - No fumbles, all of the kicks were made, good return by VWIII.

mrjpark - Nothing special, which is a good thing. Wharton’s no waive was gutsy, but should have paid off.

Thebearisdead - CAL’s best unit on the field.

Willis Chong - They did their job. Good punt returns and KO returns. They did not make many mistakes, not ones that cost of the game.

What are your thoughts on the coaching staff’s performance?

Lucky1715 - Disappointing. We couldn’t score inside the red zone on numerous occasions. The QB and WR coaching is still very suspect. Overall, the worst coaching performance I’ve seen from a Wilcox team.

Bartmortonski - OC is worrisome, the 2-headed OB is not working

Willis Chong - “Play calls were uncreative. I think that all that prep that went to Bowers opening up the play book was wasted and we had to start from square one with our two new guys. I feel like we’ve regressed and the coaching isn’t up to snuff right now. Too many mental mistakes.

I will give them credit: our guys didn’t give up and even when we were behind, there was still a spark of hope.”

What are your thoughts on Cal’s overall performance?

dmh65 - Easy win for Oregon, but I haven’t lost hope for a winning season. Go Bears!

Rugbear - If you take out the turnovers and stalled drives, we played well. We had 25 1st downs to their 21, 427 yards of offense versus 485 from their potent offense, and we controlled time of possession. Besides turnovers the difference was Herbert for them.

Bowlesman80 - “Take heart. It was a little more ugly than we would hope, but this is the same team that dominated Furd for the first half. Tough loss to a better team is no shame. “

texashaterforlife - If Cal had eliminated the dum, shoot-yourself-in-the-foot mistakes it may have been a closer, exciting game at the end. The fumble-scoop-six really changed the momentum. Cal lost the turnover margin, Cal lost the game. I still think Cal should beat Arizona next week.

CoBears - “Need more whisky. Despite the s$&t mood this put me in Saturday, I still saw enough positives that I have hope for the rest of the season. Our offense was way more productive after the bye, and our defense kept us in it (sort of). Absent the scoop and score and the pick-6, this was a 4 point game.”

Thanks for participating! We’ll see you next week after an Arizona game in which we hopefully don’t turn the ball over 5 times again.