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Rating the Bears: Cal at Ole Miss

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The SEC is Bear Territory

California v Mississippi Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

I promise that we’ll get to the results in a moment, but first we have to talk about the referees and that goal line call. Watch the replay again. Take the original camera angle and pause the film as soon as the ball is caught. Now move it forward frame by frame. Each frame is 1/24th of a second, so you can estimate the speed of the player by multiplying the number of inches he covers in each frame by 24. Use his shadow to approximate the distance covered. Now divide that by 12 to get feet per second. Remember that bit—it’s important. Now, we have to use some trigonometry to estimate his direction of travel in each frame. Using the goal line and the hash mark, we can make a right triangle and then use his position (again, it’s easier to use the shadow) to estimate the angle. By estimating the frame-by-frame velocity of the ball across the hypotenuse of that triangle, we can clearly see that...oh no! We’re out of time! We have to move ahead to the results because we’ve wasted too much time with a bunch of meaningless nonsense and now we’ll never have a chance to conduct a proper review of the play. What a shame!

Rating the Bears

Average Standard Deviation
Pass Offense 88.6 8.0
Rush Offense 50.4 22.8
Pass Defense 64.5 15.8
Rush Defense 67.6 16.2
Special Teams 69.3 20.3
Coaching 85.4 10.5
Overall 83.8 10.4
Win Chance vs. ASU 70.5 (+7.0) 14.5 (-0.1)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have entered the bizarro world. For the first time in the Wilcox Era, passing offense has earned the highest score of the week. In fact, this is one of the highest passing scores we have seen in our ten years of running this series. The only games with higher scores were Goff’s 542-yard, 5 TD performance that rallied the Bears to the regular season finale win over ASU in 2015, Webb’s 396-yard, 4 TD performance that helped the Bears complete the series sweep over Texas in 2016, Goff’s brilliant final game as a Bear (467 yards and 6 TDs on an eye-popping 12.6 yards per attempt), and, of course, Goff’s 524-yard, 5 TD masterpiece in that wild win over the Cougs in 2014. Garbers was clearly in good company this week. In fact, this was the team’s highest passer efficiency rating since that Armed Forces Bowl win in 2015. This wasn’t just a good game by Garbers’ standards. This was a great performance, period.

The Bears needed that performance from the passing game because the running game was unable to get much done against Ole Miss’ stacked boxes. Pass defense earned an uncharacteristically low score while run defense wasn’t much better. Special teams performed inconsistently and earned an okay score. Coaching and overall clearly reflected Cal fans’ delight with the outcome, as both categories earned scores in the mid-80s.

Predictions of a win over ASU have risen about 7% since our preseason predictions. Although ASU was undefeated going into last weekend, their loss didn’t have a major impact on our predictions: predictions from before their loss were about 70.3% and those coming in after roughly 10pm PDT averaged 73.5%.

Ratings Comparison

Here is how the results compare to other recent non-conference games against Power 5 teams.

Comparing Saturday’s performance (gold) to other recent games against Power 5 teams (blue)

Defense and special teams were about average compared to other similar games, but pass offense, coaching, and overall were much better than average.

And here is how it compares to other games since Wilcox took over as head coach.

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

Best passing performance of the era! And by a fair margin, too

Now let’s hand out some awards.


We have our trusty triumvirate of awards recognizing the ratings that were the highest, lowest, and closest to the community average.

Sunshine Pumpers

Name Rating
1. David Shaw rides a seatless unicycle 700 (100.0%)
1. RememberTheCalamo 700 (100.0%)
1. rocksanddirt 700 (100.0%)
4. Carlos B. Egner 680 (97.1%)
5. Rollonyoubears111 640 (91.4%)

pqtm at a seatless unicycle

Old Blues

Name Rating
1. big nuts garbers 337 (48.1%)
2. Chicagobear 365 (52.1%)
3. CrouchingNiner_HiddenTinyHands 372.8 (53.3%)
4. Teepee 375 (53.6%)
5. Droo72 393 (56.1%)

I know the first and fourth quarters weren’t great, but 4-0! #15! Enjoy it while it lasts...

The Voice of Reason

Name Deviation
1. 1988goldenbear 4.97
2. texashaterforlife 5.36
3. Northtunnelecho 6.37
4. Goffuhninny 6.43
5. SG Bear 8.27

I’m glad SGBear earned one, because he definitely earns an award for all the hard work he put into the Ole Miss tailgate.

Let’s now see you felt about the game in words.


Any comments on the gameday experience?

  • Rocksanddirt - Sitting in front of the TV in my pj’s with a cup of coffee. Now i’m all caffiened up, and nervous from the ending.
  • LeonPowe - 1am, 4am, 9am - it don’t matter to me - Evan Weaver -also, me
  • the beer - You really just gotta go see for yourself. The Rebel fans were fantastic hosts, yet that doesn’t get them a get out of getting guillotined card from me; these folks are stuck in the 60s ... the 1860s.
  • SG Bear - The whole experience was perhaps one of the best away games I have ever been to. Ole Miss fans are 99% gracious. The Grove was awesome. Oxford is a delightful little town. And the droves of Cal fans turning it into Bear Territory is one for the ages.
  • ABVidale - On what looked like a beautiful day in Oxford, there were a lot of empty seats--that surprised me given what I know of SEC football.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s passing game?

  • Willis Chong - I hope this is an actual turning point for Garbers. What I fear is that this is going to be a flash in the pan performance a la Maynard in 2012 against UCLA, where he didn’t do well the rest of the year. He’s still underthrowing all those deep balls. At least our WRs are beating the DBs so that they can adjust or draw the PI. I will give credit though-- that Tonges throw was in stride.
  • Louispko - Chase is a new man.
  • Sup_doe_library - I feel so vindicated by my guy Chase. I keep saying that he has what it takes to be a solid P12 starter and he goes and does that, at 9 am on the road in Mississippi???
  • Gobears2023 - Garbers better than Rodgers and Goff combined no cap
  • CoBears - Wow. Garbers didn’t look like the same QB out there. Even his INT wasn’t poorly thrown—it was just a hell of a defensive play. Garbers got open receivers all over the field. He ran when necessary to avoid losses. Modster even had a great pass in relief. Just wow. If we maintain this for the rest of the season, look out!
  • Sacman701 - Needed a game like this in the worst way. Even with the four sacks and the pick, this was the best the Bears have thrown the ball since Wilcox took over. The game may be slowing down for Garbers, and the ceiling for this team is higher than it looked on Friday.
  • Teepee - Clearly something major happened. I expect Baldwin/Wilcox went to Garbers and simply said, “We trust you, you’ve shown how well you can throw the ball in practice, now it’s time to do it in a game and we’re going to put a game plan in place to help you do that.” And they did. This should help Garbers’ confidence grow in his ability to deliver the ball and in his receivers that they can get separation. A huge step forward for Garbers and the program. Kudos to Garbers and the coaching staff on this one.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s running game?

  • 1988goldenbear - The RB’s struggled, but I think that is mostly because of the Ole Miss defensive scheme. They did catch a few nice ones out of the backfield, but couldn’t gain that one really critical yard in that last drive in the 4th.
  • California Love - Ole Miss took away our running game and dared Garbers to pass, and they paid for it. In this context, running game gets a so-so score from me. Dancy had some good runs.
  • Teepee - Clearly Ole Miss has a good defensive line and our banged up offensive line just couldn’t get it done. Not converting late in the game when we had 2nd and 2 was a major disappointment and could have cost the Bears big time. Thank goodness it didn’t.
  • SG Bear - People are going to be harsh on Cal, but Ole Miss constantly stacked eight in the box. You can’t expect more from the running game against a defense doing that and daring you to beat them with the pass.
  • Cleancutmedia - What run game? you mean all those run down the middle for 2 yards? Can Garbers please be told to keep it more often in a game like this. The run game down the gut was not working while nobody seems to be watching Garbers. It’s ok Garbars! Keep it if you see it!
  • Bowlesman80 - They closed us, but no surprise, they biggest strength was their run defense.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s pass defense?

  • LeonPowe - Soft zone, that tightened up through the third and then looked good until Ole Miss switched QBs
  • BearOnAMesa - Probably their worst game since UCLA last year. If Ashtyn Davis pulls in that interception late in the fourth quarter this is a totally different evaluation and much better-looking final score.
  • Rugbear - We need our starting DE’s and Linebackers back. Need better tackling.
  • Goldenlikethebears - Delightful until the end. No penalties, some swats, some break-ups.
  • Willis Chong - PBUs and an almost interceptions. I think we had a recipe for success by forcing Corral to throw.
  • CoBears - Pretty solid in the middle of the game, but not great in the start or the end. A near 15-point comeback is inexcusable, but at least we didn’t Coug it.
  • BearMD - Held QB without a TD. Gave up close to 400 yards total. Bend but do not break. A passable performance. I would have hoped we could have showcased a more stifling performance against the pass given the lofty expectations our defense has been shouldering.
  • SG Bear - Very good, if you exclude the 4th quarter. Ole Miss has some dynamic receivers, but they were largely held in check with good coverage. I saw the DBs get gassed in Q4.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s run defense?

  • Ja5onKidd - Stopped the last play of the game
  • Ben2520 - They did well. The defense had to adjust to the QB run option. They made adjustments in the second half but still allowed big QB runs on 4th down in the 4th.
  • BearOnAMesa - Tightened up in the second half after getting gashed by QB runs in the first. Then that 60 yard run by the backup QB happened…
  • Old Bear 71 - I’m so glad Weaver is a Bear! Superlatives are quickly becoming inadequate. They got 20 points off for that 4th quarter qb scramble for about 362 yards. Absent that run, pretty good.
  • Goldenone - Pretty consistent and avoided giving up big plays, needed to contain the QB option a bit better
  • Willis Chong - Unfortunately, they exploited the fact that we were gassed and our run defense is actually a weakness right now. We need to get our injured guys back because I’m scared for our depth.
  • Sup_doe_library - Magic Freshman took advantage of lack of LB depth and we were almost swept away we’re it not for Papa Weaver on 4th and G on the 6” line!!! R culture > urs
  • 1988goldenbear - Like the pass defense, we gave up some big yardage plays and a lot of yards overall. But they stuffed the biggest run attempt at the end! Evan Freaking Weaver!
  • SG Bear - Satisfactory considering we played our 2nd and 3rd string OLBs due to injuries. Ole Miss ran RPO with lots of scrambling off to the sides. Ole Miss was effective in spurts because of it, but it wasn’t so bad as to be a major liability. Bequette, Johnson, Toailoa were great at getting consistent pressure and allowing Mr. Weaver to do his thing. Speaking of. Mr. Incredible was incredible.

What are your thoughts on Cal’s special teams?

  • Oski74 - Punting is a concern. Maybe need to let Coutts completely heal.
  • CALiforniALUM - Remember when we used to complain about not having kickoffs reach the end zone?
  • Bowlesman80 - So, now, our back-up punter is better than our, likely still dinged up, starter? They did okay and our kicker is awesome!
  • Old Bear 71 - No mistakes.
  • Texashaterforlife - Coverage was better than last week. Punting net yardage is still not good.
  • Ohio Bear - Coutts was not good and was replaced by Longhetto, who came up big, especially on his last punt to put Ole Miss in poor field position for last drive. Longhetto has clearly been the better of the two punters this season.
  • Teepee - Punting continues to be a problem. The 13 yard punt late was a real problem and could have been very costly.

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

  • KJ1980 - Solid.
  • VegasBear - Excellent game plan for 4 quarters, for once.
  • BearOnAMesa - Excellent second half adjustments, as we’ve come to expect. Got a bit conservative in the 4th quarter and there were some 4th downs I think we should have gone for it. Still waiting for a game with a finishing blow.
  • Coysy - I think this was exactly what we expected from Beau Baldwin when he was hired -- Chase played really well, but on first watch, this was also super well schemed.
  • HeyAlumniGo - Loved the offensive game plan. Was shocked we passed so much the first drive but it sounds like that was the overall plan.
  • Willis Chong - Kept our team’s head in the game. Just wish that we could get enough game calling acumen to not open up the whole playbook but still make the critical first down. I just feel like all the game end up like this because, as Wilcox says, “we gotta finish.” Credit to BB for his confidence booster to Garbers. Let’s hope that the improvement continues.
  • BTown85 - Solid! In Wilcox I trust and they did what it took to win!!!! In SEC-land!!!!!! W 9am start!!!!!!!! In humidity!!!!!!!!
  • ABVidale - Given the talent level, this is a team that should be 2-2. And we would have been under Sonny Dykes.
  • BearMD - I really want to think that the offense scheme worked out well this game!

What are your thoughts on Cal’s overall performance?

  • KJ1980 - A big win in SEC territory. Even Weaver stepped up as a leader. Garbers was great today.
  • Rollonyoubears111 - What?! We have an offense? I hope our defense gets healthy because I’m trying to cut back on beer.
  • LeonPowe - On to ASU!
  • Bowles Hall - An excellent outing, really a big deal to win in Mississippi in September even against one of the poorer teams in the SEC.
  • BearOnAMesa - For ten minutes in the third quarter, Cal looked every inch a top 15 team. The fourth quarter mucked that up a fair amount but we still absolutely justified our ranking. Great to glimpse the true potential of this team!
  • Bowlesman80 - I’m callin’ It. These guys are different. Cal teams in the past, when it gets tough or close would, usually, fold. Not these guys. They win ugly, but they win! Honestly, I am so happy because we and they needed this.
  • Old Bear 71 - That was satisfying. Mississippi was where the Bears were in Seattle two weeks ago, but they couldn’t get it done because, the Bear Never Quits! What a stand at the end! Mississippi coaches are not as slick as Wilcox & Co. There’s a reason why MacIntire and Rodriguiz are no longer HC’s. Matt Luke is not as good of a game manager as Wilcox. Please, can we have some more?
  • Texashaterforlife - I will be honest. I thought that 2nd to last play, the 3rd and goal for Ole Miss, was a touchdown. I was expecting a replay review to be called. Since it wasn’t; I am half expecting another Pac-12 referee controversy later about this game. I still think Cal would have won, but it was close. I would like to see Cal play a complete game in all aspects sometime this year. I hope we get it against ASU.
  • HeyAlumniGo - We beat an SEC team (granted probably bottom half) playing an early game in some heat at their place.
  • TD_24 - Solid performance in SEC territory (it’s a myth), but still need to shore up on tackling of all things and maybe defensive scheme but it just doesn’t seem as dominant right now. Also Evan Weaver because reasons.
  • FuzztheMadDog - Really, really great workman-like performance on the part of the defense, and a breakout game for Chase Garbers. I am excited to take on the rest of a PAC-12 that looks wide open this year.
  • ABVidale - If you told me before the season began that Cal would be 4-0, I could believe it (although it was a best-case scenario). If you told me Cal would be 4-0 *and* be the only unbeaten team in the Pac-12, I would have asked you what you were smoking.
  • Ohio Bear - We got a win on the road against an SEC opponent and a gritty one at that. I”ll take it. We still need considerable improvement in all phases, but it’s nice to say that and be 4-0.
  • Teepee - A very major win but Cal MUST find ways to close out games. If they don’t they will lost an important game that they will be in a position to win. A killer instinct they don’t have and they will really need one to succeed the rest of the year. But who can argue with 4-0? And when was the last time Cal was 4-0 and the rest of the conference had at least one loss. Maybe when Andy Smith was in charge a million years ago.