(I was apprehensive to do this article because Chris is a fellow SB Nation Pac-12 writer who I respect and work with frequently. He is perfectly entitled to his opinions. But I haven't disagreed with an article this much in awhile, so I've decided to be firmly constructive in my criticism here due to the surprisingly strident tone taken here regarding Cal.
Please do the same, and if you do end up visiting UW Dawg Pound or commenting here, please be constructive too. Do not incite flame wars. Thanks and go Bears.)
So on the eve of our big matchup in Berkeley, our fellow Washington site UW Dawg Pound decided to rank Cal 11th in their latest Pac-12 power rankings. Here is the reasoning for it.
Okay, I can see us being near the bottom despite our record. We haven't exactly been going out and trucking people and each of our two wins in Pac-12 play could have been losses. There is plenty of skepticism as to whether that will translate against some of the tougher foes in our schedule". If you want to rank us in the bottom tier and take the wait-and-see approach, it makes sense.
It makes less sense for Cal to be below 2-4 Colorado, a team that Cal and several other teams not named Cal have beaten. But let's get to the individual comments.
In the long history of wins that were not deserved, this one may reign supreme.
I kind of feel BYU's win over Jake Locker's spike is a bit higher. Or maybe the Oregon - Oklahoma onside kick game. You know, games that were absolutely decided by incorrect officiating calls.
It only took an absolute dumpster fire of a WSU defense AND a missed chip shot FG on a badly mismanaged end of game for Cal to get this "defining" victory.
I doubt any Cal fan felt this was a "defining" victory. The general sentiment is that we were very, very lucky. Many of us just were happy to escape with our livers and minds intact after that third quarter.
Their defense - which surrendered 812 yards of offense (WHAT???) to WSU - simply exists to give their offense a chance to catch a breather on the sideline.
That's not exactly what the defense is designed to do. In general, we like to stop football teams so the offense can go to work. Until the fourth quarter of the Arizona game, it was doing that. Unfortunately, we've suffered a series of injuries at crucial positions, and as has been discussed before, that means playing a lot of freshmen, walk-ons, and recent junior college arrivals who are going to struggle playing 100+ snaps a game. So since then the Bears have been firmly in the bend, bend, bend, bend, bend, but don't always break defensive style.
The criticism of Cal this week seems to be mostly about our defense. Washington had a really bad game of their own defensively against FCS Eastern Washington, surrendering 52 points and 500+ yards while allowing scores on eight of their final ten drives (and one of those drives was a kneel down end-of-half situation). Eastern Washington is a good team that can put up the points, but this is pretty tough performance to swallow. It seems a bit of a stretch to say that the Bears are the only team that can have a really bad game, particularly against an offense as potentially potent as Cal.
The offense, which is obviously potent, hasn't demonstrated it can actually regularly beat a defense with a pulse.
Northwestern is 22nd in Defensive S&P+ so far this season. Their defense has given up 20 points to Penn State & Wisconsin combined. The Bears scored 24 points in the first half in Chicago.
The fact that they are in first place in the North - and I don't mean this to be rude to a Cal fan base that deserves to have some fun given what they endured a year ago - is an embarrassment to the conference.
I'm not sure why embarrassment should be defined as "giving up a bunch of points". Is it more embarrassing than UCLA giving up ten sacks to Utah? Or the current Oregon coaching staff not understanding how to use Marcus Mariota? Or USC blowing a two score lead in three and a half minutes by giving up a 73 yard touchdown and a Jael Mary at the buzzer? Or Stanfurd not able to manage more than one or two scoring drives a game and wasting their outstanding defensive effort? Why does Cal have to be an embarrassment for simply playing a high-scoring game when they did as much as they possibly do to be in a position to win on Saturday night?
Also, measuring raw yardage is a bad way to examine how good or bad a defense is. Cal's defense is not good by any means, but they are not a bottom feeder like last year--they're around 97th in defensive S&P+, and their run defense has remained quite stout so far this season. Guess who the closest Pac-12 team is on this list? Washington, at 88th.
We could have a fun offensive-minded battle this weekend. Let's see whose defense has the most pulse this weekend.
Anyway, I just disagreed with this post a little. I hope the Bears can win a few more games and prove to not be embarrassments anymore =(.