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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. UW

The defense reaches a new high in a brilliant performance

Washington v California
Palms of Victory!
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Rating the Bears

What a game. This may be my favorite game of the Justin Wilcox era. While the Wazzu game last year was an unexpected, three-hour celebration during which we dominated every phase of the game, Saturday’s win was full of tension and uncertainty. Wavering back and forth between hope and doubt made the end result that much more satisfying, particularly as anticipation built while the offense slowly sealed the victory with a clock-killing 5-minute drive. As the ratings below indicate, I clearly was not the only one pleased with Saturday’s game.

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 61.2 22.3
Rush Offense 68.7 18.8
Pass Defense 90.8 13.3
Rush Defense 90.5 13.0
Special Teams 75.6 18.1
Coaching 85.4 17.3
Overall 87.3 14.5
Win Probability vs. Washington St. 51.9 (-2.8) 23.1 (+16.1)

Amazingly, this is the first time we have ever seen both defensive categories score above 90. It didn’t happen in the 2017 Wazzu game and it didn’t even happen in the 2010 Oregon game. Undoubtedly bolstered by the fact that we won, both offensive categories climbed into the 60s despite failing to score a TD.

Our predictions of a win against Wazzu haven’t budged much since the preseason. While the Bears are about where we expected to be at this point in the season (5-3), I don’t think many of us expected the Cougs to be 7-1 at this point in the season.

Ratings Comparisons

In every category except pass offense (thanks Jared!), this was the best game we have seen against the Huskies this decade.

Comparing Saturday’s performance (gold, obviously) to recent games against Washington.

A mediocre offensive output kept this from being one of the best performances of the Wilcox Era. Still, the second-best pass defense, best run defense, and second-best overall ratings are nothing to sneeze at. Do people actually sneeze at impressive things? Why is that a saying?

Comparing Saturday’s performance (gold) to all other games in the Wilcox Era.


Let’s hand out our trusty triumvirate of awards, starting with the most optimistic ratings of the week.

Sunshine Pumpers

Name Rating
1. David Shaw wears a Merkin 700 (100.0%)
1. A. Smith 700 (100.0%)
1. goldenbears02 700 (100.0%)
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
1. rocksanddirt 700 (100.0%)

We have five awards to hand out and we received five perfect ratings. That makes my job easy!

Old Blues

Name Rating
1. Cougfan7384859385 0 (0.0%)
2. gordonbear 342 (48.9%)
3. Ben2520 400 (48.9%)
4. Goffuhninny 455 (65.0%)
5. xdx 460 (65.7%)

It looks like someone is still grieving last year’s 37-3 loss!

The Voice of Reason

Name Deviation
1. diasfordays 2.87
2. CoBears 3.57
3. hardtobecalfan 3.98
4. oski74 4.34
5. Golden Shower Bears 4.45

diasfordays gets the lowest standard deviation we have seen all year en route to this week’s top VoR award.

Now let’s review some comments about the game.


Any comments on the gameday experience?

wiata78 - On a business trip to Pittsburgh. So great that it was on local TV! ... None of what I say here ever gets quoted this year. But I don’t care. You can’t beat that winning feeling.


Berkules - Despite the fact that the student section was sparse and the turnout was less than mediocre, when it came to third and fourth downs, the crowd was live as f*ck. I was getting folks hyped in section C, but I give it to the Mic Man for doing a great job (except I hate the “new Cal cheer” where we’re supposed to clap for C A L after the band does something).

I enjoyed walking down Bancroft with the Cal Band and following them to Sproul.

Old Bear 71 - A Five Star day: 1. Travelled from Florida to attend with my son, Sam [ed: CGB’s wonderful former writer Sam Fielder/UncleSam22!] 2. Lunch at Top Dog 3. Great pregame chat with many CGBers 4. UPSET VICTORY over ranked UW 5. Post game dinner at Taco Truck!

Best game day experience in many many moons!!!

California Love - Awesome. We had a great tailgate, loved celebrating when the offense got the first down that put the game away, still enjoying the process of recognizing that (UCLA debacle notwithstanding), a bowl game is very possible.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s passing game?

sacman701 - Took a lot of sacks and was unable to sustain much, but made some plays here and there and avoided disasters.

justbear - Boring but no turnover so okay

BearMD - I applaud Baldwin for sticking with Garbers as the starter. We’ve seen over many games now how McIlwain just is not the starter he should be with so many ill-timed picks. Passing was mediocre, by the numbers. But if you were there, like I was, there were some flashes of good passes mixed in with first year jitters. In one sequence, Garbers flushed out of pocket to the right and instead of passing to Laird who was wide open on the right sideline, he instead passed to Noa (I think) who was a few yards ahead, but just in front of a slew of Huskies defenders. I’m sure these things will begin to slow down for him as he continues playing his game. But what a confidence booster this will be for Garbers, even if he didn’t do least he didn’t make a major mistake on a major stage.

ABVidale - Given how good UDub’s defense is, the performance was what I expected.

texashaterforlife - Satisfactory management (as in no turnovers).

What are your thoughts on Cal’s running game?

GuMiBears - Surprisingly good when it counted. There was very good clock management AND execution for the run playing.

California Love - Solid for most of the game, Beast Mode-like with two minute to go in the 4th quarter. Small detail, but watching Mekari between plays evidenced the “we’ve got it, game over” leadership we needed.

CoBears - Our running game was good, but not great. Still, UW is a good defense, and we salted the game when it mattered.

heyalumnigo - Did well enough to win the time of possession. Best series of maybe the year was the last drive.

David Shaw wears a Merkin - I was hoping Laird would go over 100 yds, 83 yards is close enough. Nobody had negative yards and Laird’s fumble was not turned over, I’d say that was a success. It would be nice to have a second RB get some carries though.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s pass defense?

SlapHappyBear - They were flying all over the place. Cal’s defense was possessed by years of being mediocre at best. Now, we are moving on up, to the east side.

Willis Chong - Browning was uncomfortable and not doing well. PBUs and INTs are always good, particularly against an elite team like Washington. Weaver is boss.

BearMD - That Cal pulled off such an amazing performance against Browning is mind-blowing! Bynum’s pick on the first quarter should have made top 10 for how amazingly he dragged his foot to stay in-bounds. Not only did we limit Browning to 1 TD, he ACTUALLY was benched through a part of the 3rd quarter because of his lackluster performance! And Weaver’s pick 6 against the backup Haener was the difference maker! I don’t know what we did differently this time, but it made a once Heisman candidate look like a benchwarmer.

jrrad1980 - Overall, excellent. Very few breakdowns or poor executions. Two great picks, and one near miss that was dropped (fortunately) for an incomplete pass. Weaver’s play was one for the ages, a great pick-6 that essentially won the game for the Bears.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s run defense?

Rugbear - Stuffed UW plain and simple.

Bowlesman80 - Smart and not easily fooled. Really good, tonight!

Lucky1715 - Stellar. I loved the aggressiveness, the non-stop attitude, and the constant misdirection of the blitz packages that kept them guessing all night long. Great, great job.

Willis Chong - A bit lucky with Gaskin not playing, but we did bottle the running game up for the most part. After one good Browning run, we sniffed out the QB keeper plays and basically stringed things out.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s special teams?

wiata78 - Making that FG would have lowered my blood pressure a little. But, no big mistakes.

Bowlesman80 - Wow. What a breakout run! And our kicker is VERY good!

hardtobecalfan - mixed bag. missed FG, muffed punt we were lucky to get back. but davis had a great runback.

SlapHappyBear - Great kick offs, good punting. We stayed out of trouble.

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

Rugbear - Best game of the year clearly. Great job on defense, really good on offense and ST were solid as well.

sacman701 - We were snapping the ball with too much time on the clock in the middle of the 4th quarter. Otherwise, great. The team was ready to play and the game plan worked.

justbear - When was last time someone outcoached Petersen?

sonny dykes - Great coaching. Much better than i coached

Rollonyoubears111 - Should have more team meetings without the coaches. It seemed to work, also the web switch is better late than never but should never have happened

Willis Chong - The coaching staff gets a lot of credit for this one. The game did not quite go according to plan, but they executed enough and placed our guys in positions where they could do some damage. Overall, no real headscratchers, though still don’t like BMC cutting into the rhythm of the offense when we are in a groove.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s overall performance?

rocksanddirt - Just win, baby

Bowlesman80 - Did not see this coming. Wow. A win in Pullman to top this off? *dreaming....

Mitchgobears - Great play against a tough opponent. More to come.

calbear1984 - Loved the entire game. Disappointed that we settled for field goals but felt we played a clean game on offense and, as usual, our defense was stellar. Hoped but didn’t believe we could win and then.....after the pick 6, came the lovely realization that we COULD win ...and then WE ARE GOING TO WIN!!! I love the BEARS!!

FrmrG8r - Huge win against a ranked opponent. Similar to the WSU ambush last year.

Berkules - YOU KNOW IT! YOU TELL THE STORY! YOU TELL THE WHOLE DAMN WORLD THIS IS BEAR TERRITORY! Any time I get to rush the field, I cannot complain.

ABVidale - Bottle this performance, and repeat it the rest of the season.

texashaterforlife - I had no hope of winning this contest before it started. I thought Cal would actually lose the rest of their games. Compared with other Pac-12 game results, Cal restored hope and faith we can make a bowl game especially if we beat the dopey dancing tree. Happy Halloween and Go BEARS!

GuMiBears - 10/10 do it again. Cal can win Pac 12 north if they win out handing a loss to everyone on the schedule and everyone gets one more loss. Cal will then have all the tie-breakers and Oregon will have one more loss than Cal.

California Love - My voice has still not recovered from the minute when we got the first down and realized that it was game over in the 4th quarter. Great day to be a Cal fan.

CoBears - Living in Seattle, I haven’t been this proud to don my Cal gear in over a decade. This win is inspiring. It was thrilling. And, for one weekend, the Bears were truly Golden. And that’s not even to mention Stanfurd and U$C losing and the fact the OSU beat Colorado on the road. We may not be consistent yet, but we have more wins on the horizon, and I can’t wait for the future. Go Bears!