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Rating the Bears: Cal Upsets UW! Again!

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It was well worth the six-hour wait.

California v Washington
Another game, another great Christopher Brown Jr. stiffarm photo.
Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The 2010s have not given us many dramatic, memorable wins (particularly of the upset variety). That has begun to change in the Wilcox Era. During every recent season we have enjoyed at least one dramatic upset win. There was the 37-3 annihilation of #8 Wazzu in 2017, the breaking of the 14-year losing streak to USC last year (on the road, no less), and, of course, the 12-10 victory over the Pac-12 Champion Huskies. All of those wins came in the latter half of the season, usually after a low point in the season. Prior to dismantling Wazzu, the Bears’ 3-0 start turned to 3-3 with blowout losses to Oregon and Washington in consecutive weeks. In 2018 the win over UW came only two weeks after one of the worst Cal losses many of us had ever seen, the 7-37 shellacking by then-winless UCLA. And the USC win immediately followed a deflating, shoot-yourself-in-the-foot-and-keep-shooting-until-the-magazine-is-empty loss on the road to a top-ten Wazzu. With Sunday morning’s win over UW, we’re ahead of schedule on our big upset of the year. In fact, a performance like last week’s might be an omen that we can skip our annual nadir that occurs around games 4-6.

Rating the Bears

As usual, we collected our post-game ratings, churned them up like Luc Bequette churning through opposing offensive lines, and displayed them in the table below. We include the average for each category and the standard deviation, a measure of how much variation we observed in our results.

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 61.5 23.4
Rush Offense 86.7 9.6
Pass Defense 88.8 8.9
Rush Defense 78.7 13.5
Special Teams 72.9 20.2
Coaching 89.0 10.1
Overall 89.6 9.9
Win Chance vs. North Texas 93.3 (+7.9) 8.1 (-4.3)

As usual, the passing game earned the lowest score of the week. The score was an improvement over last week, largely thanks to Garbers’ impressive ability to drive the team down the field on that final Cal possession. For the second week in a row the ground game earned strong scores, although this time credit goes both to Brown and Dancy thanks to a more balance split between the two backs.

In keeping with recent traditions, pass defense earned the highest rating of any unit on the field thanks to shut-down coverage from the DBs and enough of a pass rush to make Eason uncomfortable throughout the night. Run defense earned good but not great scores.

Special teams had the highest variation in our ratings because everyone wants to give credit to Thomas for that game-winning kick, but otherwise special teams had some poor coverage and uninspiring punting. It’s hard to win rock fights with 20-something yard punts.

Coaching earned tremendous scores due to some great second half adjustments by Baldwin that helped Garbers quickly get rid of the ball before the tenacious UW pass rush arrived. The coaches also earned credit for keeping the team focused and hungry to win after that endless delay. The overall category was the highest score of the day. It’s interesting that the overall score was 89 and that this victory was largely due to the heriocs of #89. Coincidence? I think not.

Finally, our optimism of a win over North Texas grew slightly since preseason. This win and North Texas’ blowout loss to Sonny Dykes’ SMU team have boosted our spirits heading into this weekend.

Ratings Comparisons

With only three wins against UW this decade, the Bears compared pretty favorably to recent performances against the Huskies.

Comparison of Sunday morning’s performance (gold) to all other recent games against the Huskies (blue).

Except for pass offense, last week’s game earned the highest or second-highest ratings of all recent games against Washington.

Now let’s compare to other games since Wilcox took over as coach.

Comparison of Sunday morning’s performance to all other games from the Wilcox Era

Surprisingly, this performance did not earn the highest score in any single category since 2017, but it was near the top in most of them. Averaging across all those scores, this was the third-best win of the Wilcox era (Wazzu 2017 was #1 followed by the win over USC last year).


Lastly, let’s hand out some awards for the best, worst, and most reasonable scores of the week.

First, the optimists.

Sunshine Pumpers

Name Grade
1. heckyeah 700 (100.0%)
1. Rattos rambles 700 (100.0%)
1. C98 700 (100.0%)
1. Go Eat A Taco 700 (100.0%)
1. SGBear 700 (100.0%)
1. rocksanddirt 700 (100.0%)
1. David Shaw sucks nuts 700 (100.0%)
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
1. wiata78 700 (100.0%)

100s across the board!


Next we have those for whom the storm clouds never stop raging.

Old Blues

Name Rating
1. Bearly Legal 400 (57.1%)
2. thepillowpants 410 (58.6%)
3. fuck yeah 425 (60.7%)
3. CrouchingNiner_HiddenTinyHands 425 (60.7%)
5. BearMD 430 (61.4%)

Those scores aren’t too bad, actually...

The Voice of Reason

Finally, we have those whose grades were closest to the community average.

Name Deviation
1. Jerseybear94 2.59
2. sacalum 3.23
3. MIT bear 3.75
4. Berkelium97 3.95
5. Jack_S 4.28

Any one of these would have finished #1 overall last week. And that 2.59 is an exceptionally good score. Nice work, all.


With the numbers crunched, let’s look at your comments about the game. I have the feeling you all enjoyed it.

Gameday Experience

  • Berkules: Staying up late with the CGB folks was a fantastic experience. I feel bad for the East Coast Bears, but those who were able to stick around on the threads were cogent and devoted and just all around effin mensches.
  • dmh65: It looked so grim early in the game, it was great to gain some confidence in the O and pull off this amazing road win!
  • heckyeah: Sleepy. But SO HAPPY I STAYED UP FOR THIS.
  • I was there and stayed until 0:00: I was there until 0:00 on the clock and might have been pissing off a UW fan or 14 the whole night. One dude told me to suck it after Cal scored a TD. Another told me I was annoying after Eason fumbled. After poaching a high dollar seat in the 4th Q, I was told “down in front” by an another UW fan (who then had to stand up a few minutes later when the rest of the UW fans stood up in front of us). I am hoarse. I had a great gameday experience!
  • diasfordays: Went to bed at 3:35. Fell asleep around 4. My son woke me at 5:45. WORTH IT, GO BEARS!
  • texashaterforlife: The lightning and thunder show was cool for the first 45 minutes, however it did not need to last for the two hours and whatever minutes that it did. My first time to Husky stadium was good up to that point. The loudest stadium I’ve been in, ever. I truly thought the game was going to be called and possibly rescheduled like last year’s CalvFurd game. And I had other late evening commitments. But watching the 2nd half on DVR and seeing Cal earn the win was Awesome. Also had some really cool video of lightning strikes.
  • RememberTheCalamo: I was waiting for a flight in Athens so the time zone for watching the gamecast worked out quite well.

Passing Game

  • Willis Chong: Didn’t make too many mistakes. Garbers learned from last year to be a game manager during these tough spots and make plays based on what the defense gives you. That last drive will hopefully boost confidence. Still worried about our pass protection sometimes, but at least Garbers has some escapability as opposed to someone like Longshore.
  • Cugel: It was good enough, our WR made tough catches; Garbers was careful with the rock, all in all, a solid performance.
  • Bowlesman80: *Clutches heart* We made successful passes that moved the ball and there were no interceptions? My question is my answer. You may infer that I was happy to be surprised.
  • California Love: Notwithstanding first quarter, Garber was very good with game on the line, passes to Duncan and Crawford great. No interceptions really important against ranked teams on the road.
  • sacalum: Overall, very average. But no mistakes and key completions when it counted.
  • sacman701: No turnovers, and just enough threat to take some pressure off the running game. For us, that’s progress. Pass pro is likely to be a sore spot all year.
  • diasfordays: For all its shortcomings, it made the passes in crunch time on the last (game-winning) drive. THAT’S PROGRESS! GO BEARS!
  • ak_A: Garbers may be getting tuned in to what he can do within his limits.
  • CamHand: efficient, nothing past 30 but a couple past 25; came thru at the END!; UW is TOUGH, GREAT job!
  • heckyeah: 0 Interceptions. For all the complaints about Garbers, he didn’t force anything, he didn’t make any major mistakes.

Rush Offense

  • dmh65: Brown and Dancy are Thunder and Lightning!!
  • heckyeah: WE GOT A F’IN SQUAD NOW. CBJ channels his inner CJA & we got a Fancy Dancy
  • CamHand: Avg 5 and a couple over 20 = YES we have some explosion
  • Efini: Finally we have 2 great young backs again that offer two different running styles!
  • dbromon: Go O-line!!! Wow, being able to run the ball even when they knew it was coming, really opened things up.
  • BearMD: Brown’s running couldn’t possibly be the same as last week! But hey, 80 yards against a fairly vaunted Washington defense is nothing to scoff at, especially considering that Dancy took the load today to the tune of 10+ yards/carry! If the duo can develop together, we’re now talking about a two headed RB monster...shared load = longevity of our RBs for the season and their careers.
  • sacman701: Really got going in the second half. Crucially, we have two legit backs to split the load.
  • California Love: Two excellent running backs, blocking was good against a top defense. No need to run Brown 30+ times, he and Dancy share the load quite well. Props to Garbers for some good runs and a block on Dancy’s TD.
  • Bowlesman80: Our offensive strength, now. Well done Brown, Dancy, and Garbers. I guess he can muscle up the middle.
  • Willis Chong: I think we are starting to find the identity of our offense with Brown (do the FS1 announcers even know if he is okay being referred to as Chris Brown?) and Dancy. Even with a patchwork OL, they were able to find holes when it counted. Hopefully, when the OL is more stable, then we will see the giant gaping holes. I will give the OL credit for adjusting and standing their ground for the most part against the stout Udub D. Would like to see them cut down on the holding penalties though.

Pass Defense

  • Christopher_h: You know you’re good when a 5-star QB is afraid to throw it on you.
  • David Shaw sucks nuts: They’ve come along way from being on the other team’s highlight reels.
  • Bowlesman80: ”YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” But, credit to Dubs’ receivers for dropping some, at critical points.
  • brooklynbear: BEND BUT DO NOT BREAK. Nonetheless, too many 2nd / 3rd and long conversions.
  • Al Boogie: They shut a great passing team down and had the receivers spooked.
  • diasfordays: THAT WAS NOT A PI, BECK GOT ROBBED. Great performance by the takers, and the D as a whole, shutting down “the chosen one” or whatever stupid nickname UW probably gave Eason.
  • BearMD: I had absolutely no idea Cal would be able to shut down Washington defense this well. Giving Eason zero TDs, but instead taking an INT from him?! Am I in twilight zone?
  • 1brsfan: Don’t throw against us.
  • dmh65: Held a really good team in check, very impressive

Run Defense

  • Berkules: It worries me a little that they’re slow to start, but they’re absolute beasts.
  • Goffuhninny: Against every other team in the pac-12, our dl will perform better
  • Efini: Mostly solid, played very well considering who they were against and lack of offensive production early
  • fuck yeah: weaver GOAT but man we need interior DL depth stat
  • BearMD: Giving up 100+ yards to a RB, to me, means the run defense was somewhat porous. But then, context matters. Washington’s passing game was shut down, so what else could they do but run? So I’ll give them a pass on this. Still, giving close to 200 yards rushing is not a good sign and Cal needs to work with the guys to shore up the porous openings.
  • SilverballManiac: Same! Excellent. Washington made some plays, but you’d expect them to!
  • sacman701: The Huskies generally got the better of us, but we slowed them down enough to force them into some passing situations.
  • rollonyoubears111 “david shaw ____”’s #1 fan: The only major area of concern, but they stopped them when they needed to. Ahmed was slippery as heck.

Special Teams

  • mendogriz: I can’t think of anything especially bad that happened on STs this time. But no great returns, either.
  • Oski’s 5th Pint: Gave up way too many return yards, but did win is the game!
  • Willis Chong: Gotta hand it to Greg Thomas for making those FGs. We needed every point. Still a bit concerned about our coverage teams though.
  • Lucky1715: Still not loving our Special Teams play, but when the chips were down, they delivered the winning kick.
  • sacman701: Not great. Punts were short, and return defense was sketchy.


  • Gobears157: Cal beat a better and more talented team on the road. This one’s on the coaches! And our rbbc. Marcelllllllllll!
  • CamHand: I don’t know who called for a penalty and then a big reception on the last drive but that coach deserves a raise! Otherwise... CAL WINS!
  • CoBears: They just beat a more talented Washington squad for the second year in a row in Husky Stadium. I was a little concerned when it was 10-0, but this was a tremendous team effort and a tremendous coaching effort. Awesome.
  • DanMoore: Great offensive adjustments in the second half. Defense remained stellar through the full game, largely nullifying the adjustments Washington made. Great game all around from the coordinators.
  • diasfordays: What. A. Chess. Match. (side note: BB almost killed me by going 3-and-out on the second to last drive while only burning 30s of clock. BUT, it all worked out, I suppose…
  • Sup_doe_library: That game was won on the road, at 1:23 AM, without our starting LT, missing NG’s, etc, and we quietly dominated a complete team on the road. That’s gotta be coaching.
  • sacman701: 31 plays for Garbers and 23 for the backs is not the ideal split, but the halftime adjustments were excellent.
  • California Love: A road win against a ranked team requires great coaching. Had the defense ready to play from the opening whistle and Baldwin made excellent adjustments in the second half.
  • HeyAlumniGo: Sign them all to contract extensions!!! And we got a Wilcox lip lick.
  • Bowlesman80: Well, part of it had to be Wilcox’s familiarity with Petersen and BB pulling a few tricks that may have been held back before, but, overall, especially in the second half, genius!
  • Willis Chong: They kept the focus up during the delay and had a good plan. I don’t know if this is the ceiling, but our game plan was solid.


  • Art the Collector: Great win vs top 15 team but lots to clean up. Need to start better.
  • Willis Chong: I thought we needed to steal at least 2 games to be bowl eligible. Now Cal has to hold serve for the toss ups and steal another one. Perhaps we will get some more fine tuning next week, but they still have to win. I think the other benchmark for the team will be how the team does the week after at Ole Miss. I think an SEC team in their home stadium is still a tough out, regardless of they look on paper.
  • Christopher_h: This game was a classic, and a thriller from start to finish. Cal had very little room for error, and they played about as well as they possibly could. So proud of Cal for that performance.
  • ABVidale: ”We won, deal with it!”
  • Bowlesman80: Whatta’ think? We upset a top fifteen team, an perpetual nemesis, in their own house, with our ragtag, partial rebuild team. Win or lose, they were F’ing awesome!
  • sacman701: Like at SC last year, we gutted out a narrow road win after an awful first half. The formula of run offense and pass defense should get us many more wins this year.
  • SilverballManiac: Awesome! Winning in Seattle? Yahooooooo!
  • Vegasbear: Exceeded all expectations.
  • 2004-present: I can’t believe we pulled this one out. The Davis game was so discouraging and Washington clearly had the more talented team that I was preparing myself all week for an old college try defeat. This is what happens when a team is well-coached and shows up ready and eager to beat a heavyweight opponent. No way previous regimes win this game. I have no idea how the season will end up but suddenly a red-hot start and a ranking look very much on the table. Go Bears!
  • heckyeah: Instant classic, top 10 modern Cal Football win.
  • Berkules: We beat Washington, for the second year in a row, in their house. Sure it helped that half the Husky fans probably left during the delay, but f*ck em, the Cal fans stayed.
  • calbear77: Bold.
  • SGBear: YOU GET A 100. YOU GET A 100. EVERYONE GETS A 100!