The Good, the Bad, and the Rock Fights: Cal at UCLA Football
A little bit of everything, all of the time
At the end of last week’s piece I expressed hope that the UCLA matchup would produce the single strangest outcome possible, one that has eluded us in seven years of Wilcox Era games and a fitting finale to the beloved chaos that is Pac-12 After Dark: a win that was categorized into The Bad. I will partially spoil the result by conceding that we did not see such a game. But, my goodness, it was close; about as close as we have ever been to a win in The Bad.
One of my favorite aspects of this weekly feature is that while we classify each game into one of four categories, those categories are constantly evolving as we acquire more data. In our plot of the four clusters of games we occasionally we get a game that literally pushes the boundary of a cluster into a new space we have never seen before. The 35-0 loss to Utah in 2019 and the 63-19 loss to Oregon this season pushed the boundaries of The Bad cluster into depths we had not seen under Wilcox (and, mercifully, still have not been seen in other losses). Identifying how these games cluster together is the primary objective of this piece, but equally as interesting as identifying those clusters (if not moreso) is identifying where one cluster ends and another begins. Just how good does the offense need to be to offset the defensive ineptitude and pull a game out of The Bad and into The Pillowfights? And how much offensive futility is necessary to drag a game out of The Good and into The Rockfights? Today we dive into as paradoxical a game as we have seen, one seemingly at home in all four categories while simultaneously not really fitting into any of them…