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Cal vs. BYE Week

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Cal has a 100% chance of winning the BYE week barring any injuries.

NCAA Football: Idaho State at California Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Cal vs. Idaho State In Numbers:

Errata: these numbers were scored against an middling FCS opponent and thus should be taken with a grain of salt both ways.

9.5 AY/A (11.6 in the first half, 8.3 before the fourth quarter, 15.8 in fourth quarter)

Good news: Cal QBs were able to break the 7.5 AY/A threshold for the first time this season.

Bad news: The Idaho State allowed an AY/A of 9.4 last season, so Cal QBs were basically average against this defense, which faced the powerhouses of UC Davis, Webster State, and Utah State.

6.7 AY/A (2.42 in the first half, 3 before the fourth quarter, 17.17 in fourth quarter).

Cal remains a team where the defense asks the question, “Is the fourth quarter really ours?”

42.7% (44.4% in the first half, 45% before the fourth quarter, 33.3% in fourth quarter).

This is the passing split the offense had. Even factoring in the quality of the opponent, this was an extremely run-heavy balance. This makes sense since both Chase Garbers and Brandon McIlwain are threats as rushing QBs.

Cal vs. Rest of the Pac-12

Pac-12 Overall in Week 3

Team Rec. 2ndO Wins (Diff) S&P+ (Percentile) S&P+ (Margin) Rk Last Week Chg
Team Rec. 2ndO Wins (Diff) S&P+ (Percentile) S&P+ (Margin) Rk Last Week Chg
Washington 2-1 2.6 (0.6) 94.80% 24.4 7 10 3
Stanford 3-0 2.7 (-0.3) 79.20% 12.8 27 30 3
Washington State 3-0 2.9 (-0.1) 77.60% 12 30 39 9
Oregon 3-0 2.9 (-0.1) 76.20% 11.3 32 27 -5
Utah 2-1 1.9 (-0.1) 72.50% 9.7 37 24 -13
USC 1-2 1.5 (0.5) 72.30% 9.6 39 47 8
Colorado 3-0 2.1 (-0.9) 67.50% 7.6 44 55 11
Arizona State 2-1 1.6 (-0.4) 58.60% 4.2 55 34 -21
California 3-0 2.6 (-0.4) 52.50% 2 65 58 -7
Arizona 1-2 1.1 (0.1) 38.70% -3 78 109 31
UCLA 0-3 0.3 (0.3) 32.70% -5.3 85 85 0
Oregon State 1-2 1.6 (0.6) 28.60% -7 93 80 -13

From S&P+ perspective, Cal is the worst team from the non-terri-bad-oh-god-what-is-this tier with UCLA/Oregon State/Arizona. There are ffour distinct tiers: Washington is in a league of its own with WSU, USC, Stanfurd, Oregon, and Utah in the tier below. Cal shares its tier with Colorado and Arizona State.

However, once we delve into the offense and defenses, the data will show that Cal is basically Utah of Pac-12 North. The difference in the 28 spots overall S&P+ ranking is due to 6 spots on defense and 12 spots on offense.

The difference between Cal and Utah translates into a 6–6 season and a 8–4 season.

Pac-12 Offenses in Week 3

Team Off. S&P+ Off. S&P+ Rk
Team Off. S&P+ Off. S&P+ Rk
Oregon 38.5 25
Washington 35.8 35
Washington State 34.5 43
Colorado 32.3 50
Oregon State 30.4 61
Arizona 30.1 65
Arizona State 28.2 75
USC 26 87
Stanford 24.6 93
UCLA 23.3 99
Utah 19.8 108
California 15.9 120

We’re bad on offense. This is caused by a multiplicity of reasons that we’re all well aware of. Comparatively, this offensive ineptitude is comparable to a Sonny Dykes–manned defense of the Davis Webb era. Overall, it is a down year for offenses in the Pac-12 with only Washington breaking into the national top 25 and half of the Pac-12 in the bottom half of the rankings.

For USC—despite the hype surrounding their true-freshman QB JT Daniels—the drop to 86th from 26th in 2017 can be attributed to the departure of the third-overall NFL Draft pick Sam Darnold and RB Ronald Jones II.

UCLA with Chip Kelly represent another fall from grace where the former offensive guru has failed to produce any offense with the Bruins. This is uncharacteristic since in 2007, his first season as Oregon OC, he had the Ducks as the fourth-best offense in the nation.

Pac-12 Defenses in Week 3

Team Def. S&P+ Def. S&P+ Rk
Team Def. S&P+ Def. S&P+ Rk
Utah 10 2
Washington 11.3 3
Stanford 11.8 4
California 14 8
USC 16.4 15
Washington State 22.7 38
Arizona State 24.3 47
Colorado 24.7 50
Oregon 27.1 63
UCLA 28.8 73
Arizona 33 87
Oregon State 37 105

From the looks of it, Cal will see Big 10–type of low-scoring games with the defenses in the nation. 4 out of the 10 top S&P+ defensive teams are Pac-12 teams, 5 out of top 15. 9 out of 12 Pac-12 teams are above average.

Luckily Cal will not face its Pac-12 South statistical twin this season and we will face the bottom-four teams within the conference with Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon State. All of those games ought to provide Cal with good chances to win.

Conclusion

Cal is a below-average offense away from a 8–4 season. That is the difference between having an abysmal offense and a Utah-level below-average one. If Cal were to achieve the level of offensive competency from 2017, we would be projected to come close to a 9–3 season considering the weak slate ahead of us.

Key for this week: 0 injuries.