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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. North Carolina

For better or for worse, the team has completed its transformation into the polar opposite of Sonny Dykes’ teams.

Our offense has 99 problems, but fullback ain’t one.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Remember when Ross Bowers threw for 363 yards and 4 TDs on 63% passing on the road in his first start as a collegiate quarterback? That seemed like ages ago while watching the California Golden Bears’ offense sputter about for 60 minutes on Saturday. Fortunately, the first 50 minutes of the game were a delight to watch thanks to a defense that held the North Carolina Tar Heels to 99 yards over the first three quarters. Then, the team seemed content to let UNC burn up the clock with long and plodding—but ultimately successful—scoring drives. We won, but I imagine we’d all be feeling quite a bit better about the team if this game ended after the third quarter.

Speaking of our feelings, this is the first in our series of pieces where we see how everyone evaluated the Bears’ performance. We used to call this the report card series, but there was some confusion about whether to grade the team on a traditional basis (70=C, 80=B, 90=A) or whether to use a scale where 100 is brilliant, 50 is neither great nor terrible, and 0 is the 2009 Oregon game. I think most of us used the latter scale, but now the new rating scale has less ambiguity. In the table below, I’ve listed the average score for each category and the standard deviation, which tells us how much variation is in our scores.

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 31.5 22.1
Rush Offense 50.2 21.0
Pass Defense 81.6 16.2
Rush Defense 76.4 17.3
Special Teams 62.9 19.1
Coaching 58.5 21.5
Overall 60.0 17.7
Win Probability vs. BYU 57.4% (-10.7) 21.4 (+6.9)

Continuing the pattern from last years, scores for defense were higher than scores for offense. However, the offense rarely fared this poorly last year. To see Ross Bowers come out and look much, much worse than his debut against UNC last year is disheartening, as was the inability to get much production on the ground (in part because our lack of a vertical passing game allowed UNC to stack the box and dare us to throw the ball downfield).

While the defense was mostly great and the offense was mostly unimpressive, the special teams were somewhere in between. Again, this continues the trend of decent special teams performances we saw during Wilcox’s first year.

Hopefully the coaches can find an effective way to deploy McBowbers offense or else they’re going to continue to drag down the positive ratings earned by the defensive staff.

Finally, our predictions of a win over the Stormin’ Mormons have dipped following this underwhelming outing. They’ve declined about 10% to 57.4%. Interestingly, the average win prediction before the BYU-Arizona game was about 61%, but that fell to 50% following the Wildcats’ loss.

As is our custom, we have some awards to hand out. Over the last several years, our editor’s choice awards have been sitting on the shelf gathering dust. That continues today, as we didn’t have any particularly amusing submissions, but we did receive well over 100. That’s a pretty good turnout!


The first of our usual triumvirate of awards recognizes those who had the most optimistic evaluations of the Bears.

Sunshine Pumpers

Name Rating
1. David Shaw eats babies 700 (100.0%)
1. Rocksanddirt 700 (100.0%)
3. AndDriveDriveDrive 613 (87.6%)
4. Texashaterforlife 586 (83.7%)
5. randythebear 560 (80.0%)

So did you all leave after the third quarter, or what?

Next we have those with the lowest scores of the week.

Old Blues

Name Rating
1. smitty 0.00 (0.0%)
2. hardtobecalfan 37 (5.29%)
3. jerryh2212 43 (6.14%)
4. 99bottles 200 (28.57%)
5. Auricursine 220 (31.43%)

And I know you all didn’t show up until halftime (it’s okay, you can blame the Labor Day traffic)

The Voice of Reason

Name Deviation
1. Berkelium97 5.09
2. Jerseybear94 5.26
3. Go Bearz 6.65
4. Frobos 7.12
5. the beer 7.12

Look who came in at number 1! I promise these awards aren’t rigged.

And now, per our usual tradition, let’s turn to your comments about the Bears’ performance against UNC. Oh wait, we don’t have any because I forgot to add them to the form. It looks like the QBs aren’t the only ones who botched the start of the 2018 season...