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Rating the Bears: Cal vs. USC

The important thing is that it’s over.

Hard porcelain bear from berlin Photo by: Christophel Fine Art/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

One of these days after a loss I’m going to skip this whole ordeal and re-post a report card from a more pleasant outing against that opponent. I’m sure you all would be happier to reread the 2018 USC post instead of this one. That won’t happen next week, though, because we don’t have any recent Big Game wins to look back fondly upon. Fun times. Speaking of fun times...

Rating the Bears

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 30.3 22.2
Rush Offense 48.8 26.1
Pass Defense 20.9 25.2
Rush Defense 55.4 32.4
Special Teams 48.5 28.0
Coaching 37.1 30.3
Overall 30.7 25.6
Win Chance vs. LSJU 53.7% (-2.9) 29.0 (+6.7)

The scores this week aren’t as bad as I had expected. Looking back, the game was pretty competitive until the Trojans scored that go-ahead TD at the end of the second and then ran away with it. We must be giving some credit to the team’s ability to stay in it until then. Although it ended up being a blowout, it wasn’t like the Utah game where it was a blowout from the first quarter.

Despite the brief return of Garbers, pass offense was as terrible as it has been for most of the season. The ground game was pleasantly productive at times despite CBJ’s injury. Despite being the strength of the team throughout the Wilcox Era, pass defense was terrible on Saturday as Slovis seemed to complete every third-and-forever. The loss drove down Overall and Coaching scores. Despite the Bears’ struggles over the past couple months, our expectations of a win over the Lobsterbacks have barely dropped. Their own injury woes and general ineptitude have been a pleasant surprise this season.

Ratings Comparison

It’s been a pretty miserable decade against USC, so this was far from the worst performance we’ve seen. In fact, this was near the median in all categories.

Comparing Saturday’s performance (gold) to other recent performances against USC (blue)

While it was a mostly average performance given the opponent, this was well below average compared to the rest of the Wilcox Era.

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

As bad as pass defense was, it was only the third-worst rating of the Wilcox Era. I’d rather not go back and check, but I’d guess that Oregon 2017 and Colorado 2017 were the only two games where the pass defense was worse. Unsurprisingly, those were also uncompetitive, demoralizing blowouts.


It’s hard to muster the enthusiasm to award anything after that performance, but we will muster the strength.

Old Blues

First, the lowest scores of the week.

Name Rating
1. David Shaw works the glory hole down on The Farm 0 (0.0%)
1. TD_24 0 (0.0%)
3. none 7 (1.0%)
4. berkeleyecon 125 (17.9%)
5. Oskiwow1991 145 (20.7%)

David Shaw ________ is going hard in the paint this week! That’s a good start for Big Game week.

Sunshine Pumpers

Now the highest scores of the week.

Name Rating
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
2. Bowlesman 80 545 (77.9%)
3. 1988goldenbear 460 (65.7%)
4. FriscoBear 453 (64.7%)
5. bearlygolden 375 (53.6%)

Calamo must have watched the 2018 USC game by accident.

The Voice of Reason

Finally, those closest to the community average.

Name Deviation
1. dmh65 6.22
2. Texashaterforlife 9.21
3. goldenone 11.08
4. Poohbears 11.70
5. Berkelium97 14.15

These are some pretty high qualifying score. In fact, I think my 14.15 is the worst score ever to qualify for a VoR award. I don’t know if I should be proud or ashamed.


Any comments on the gameday experience?

  • Oskiwow1991 - $C band was classless.
  • Texashaterforlife - Worst start time ever for a Cal home game. Cal should only be playing a game that starts at 8pm or later if it is played at Hawaii.
  • Bowlesman 80 - After a long, hard day of watching college football, with all the upsets and comebacks, I looked forward to our game with SuC, until the second half. Too many hurts.
  • Old Bear 71 - Check the DNA of those big, fast, freaks of nature that materialize in unoccupied spaces on the California gridiron and through force of will place Cal defensive backs to the ground in the end zones. You can’t tell me that Un$portsmanlike Children are not evil.
  • 1988goldenbear - I hate that f-ing band noise. And they got to play way too much.
  • HeyAlumniGo - Memorial was pretty full. Seemed to be only empty near the upper corners and the chairbacks.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s passing game?

  • Dmh65 - Hope that Garbers can play against Furd
  • Sacman701 - QB play was poor. Receiver play was probably the worst I have ever seen, dropping one pass after another.
  • Goldenone - We can’t catch the ball. Can’t succeed if you drop half of the passes.
  • Bearlygolden - We might have a passing game if our receivers would hold on to the ball. Too many passes hit the receivers on two hands and dropped incomplete.
  • FriscoBear - Incomplete. If we have a quarterback that can finish a game, we’d be better off.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s running game?

  • Oskiwow1991 - Poor CBJ.
  • Sacman701 - The run game was actually pretty good, the RBs averaged nearly 8 yards per attempt. Why didn’t we run more?
  • Bearlygolden - The running game was the one bright spot in this dismal affair. With Christopher Brown Jr. in action, it probably would have been even more impressive.
  • FriscoBear - If Brown wasn’t injured, the game would have been different.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s pass defense?

  • Oskiwow1991 - Unprepared.
  • Texashaterforlife - USC receivers are good, least Cal won’t have to deal with two of them next year.
  • Sacman701 - Pressure wasn’t bad. Coverage wasn’t even up to the level of 2013.
  • Poohbears - Little pass pressure makes it tough on mini db’s.
  • 1988goldenbear - If you give Slovis that much time, he will hurt you. And there is a clear talent gap between the USC WR’s and our secondary. A lot of those throws were just glorified Hail Mary’s that we were in reasonable position to defend but lost the battle. Our guys are good, but you can’t cover that long and not get burned. Plus we just plain fell down on a couple of plays that were completed for long gains and scores.
  • TD_24 - No no and no again. I knew Pittman’s addition would be an issue but my god we got no pressure and no coverage on the back end.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s run defense?

  • Texashaterforlife - alright considering USC throws 80% of the time.
  • Sacman701 - Decent. SC’s run game was not much of a factor.
  • Goldenone - Good, actually.
  • TD_24 - Ok so they didn’t get yards, I don’t care they couldn’t tackle Stephen Carr in the backfield and he’d get extra yards.
  • Bearlygolden - Run defense was solid, but didn’t have to do much when USC could pass at will.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s special teams?

  • Sacman701 - Not the problem.
  • KJ1980 - No missed FGs or extra points are a plus.
  • Bearlygolden - No big mistakes, but no outstanding contributions either. Ashtyn Davis’s hurdling return late in the game was not a good idea.
  • 1988goldenbear - Not much to complain about. Glad Thomas made his FG, we will need him in the last two games.
  • FriscoBear - Nothing special.

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

  • Dmh65 - Thought that Cal looked while Garbers was in there.
  • Goldenlikethebears - Is it the car, the designer, or the driver? This tercel is having problems.
  • Sacman701 - Running a designed run with Garbers was just stupid. With the running game mostly working and the passing game mostly not working at all, we should have given the backs more carries.
  • Old Bear 71 - In game, probably ok, prep of the D for the bionic receivers, several degrees worse than abysmal.
  • Bearlygolden - This is the first time I’ve said this: the defensive secondary did not look prepared.
  • HeyAlumniGo - Really like the play calling for the first drive. Then a few drops stalled the next drives.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s overall performance?

  • FriscoBear - Again, the score was not the indicator as to how close the game was. It hinged on a number of plays where Cal’s defense was milliseconds away from making the stop, but in the end, they were just short.
  • 1988goldenbear - Disappointing, but not surprising. On to Furd. Go Bears!
  • Poohbears - We own the State of Washington! That is all.
  • Bowlesman 80 - I am proud of our culture and character. I cannot help but feel that there was scripted “take-outs’ in this game, but that’s just me being a sore loser- maybe. Losing like this to SC feels like watching brigands destroy your town and overrun it’s defenders. Where are the Seven Samurai when we need them? We have heroes, we just need more of them.
  • Goldenone - A performance reminiscent of USC games of years gone by, unfortunately