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Rating the Bears: Cal at Oregon Football
In which our raters overwhelmingly demonstrate that context matters
Going into the season, many of us expected the Washington and Oregon games to be the toughest of the year. As expected, both were blowout losses. Against UW, the Bears surrendered 59 points and 529 yards (on 8.53 yards per play) and against Oregon they surrendered 63 points and 597 yards (on 7.28 yards per play). Cal’s offense scored 32 points against the Huskies and tallied 502 yards on 6.20 yards per play. Meanwhile against the Ducks Cal scored only 19 points on 286 yards (4.54 yards per play). Statistically, the UW game was a better performance for the Bears, but the fanbase’s ratings were distinctly higher in the Oregon game. Why? Because context matters! The primary difference between the two games is that Cal was rather competitive in the first 20 minutes of the Oregon game and rather competitive in the final 20 minutes (i.e. garbage time) of the UW game. So we were much generous with ratings in a still-undecided matchup than we were with a UW game that had long been decided by the time the Bears started performing well. That is an encouraging reminder that our ratings seem biased against what happened during garbage time.
As is increasingly common lately, the offensive categories each outperformed their respective defensive categories, in this case by about 15 points. In an exceedingly rare occurrence, special teams earned the highest ratings of the week. Coaching and overall earned lousy ratings. Interestingly, our standard deviations were huge this week, indicating that our ratings were all over the place. Even the standard deviation for the Wazzu predictions was huge, as we have now dropped the Bears from slight favorites to a coin flip.
Since we started this series Oregon has spent most of its time terrorizing the Pac-12 and earning Rose Bowl berths. So obviously the Bears have not fared too well against them. The plot below compares Saturday’s ratings to those other ratings in recent history.
Offense and special teams fared better than usual. Otherwise, everything was in the bottom 25% of ratings (below the bottom end of the box). Fun.
Compared to the rest of the Wilcox Era, this one fared…poorly.
Every single category is below the median (the horizontal blue line) and only two are outside the bottom 25% (pass offense, special teams). We have seen many sub-par ratings this season and it is not a flattering look for Wilcox et al.
As usual, we have our trusty triumvirate of awards to hand out for the best, worst, and most reasonable ratings of the week.
First, the lowest scores of the week. The parentheses in the table below show how many times that person has received that award in previous weeks.
These scores are so low that I had to double-check the results to make sure I didn’t make a math error. Alas, I did not.
Next, the highest scores of the week. No one will be surprised by the winner…
Another 1-2 finish for RememberTheCalamo and Bowlesman80!
The Voice of Reason
Finally, those whose scores were closest to the community average.
Usually the winner scores somewhere in the 3-6 range, so 14.62 is an unprecedented score. This is probably a reflection of the huge standard deviations in the data; it was harder to get close to the average across all the categories.
Onward to the comments of the week.
Any comments on the gameday experience?
wiata78: As usual, Cal played well enough in the first quarter plus to get our hopes up. Despite the certainty of our losing to a strong team. Having ones hopes dashed week after week is so painful.
Kj1980: We turned the ball over too much to win a game against a top 10 team. The interception thrown by Mendoza after Oregon's interception on the opening drive was a killer. Too many TOs! The defense was no match for the stuck offense. The defensive backs were beaten badly time after time.
Llchapman01: Same as always. Get some hope and then all hope disappears. You know why when you see Bo Nix play, throw spectacular passes and get amazing protection. Just not comparable
fuzzywuzzy: Standard fare - watching at a bar (except for when the stream wiggs out for buffering, or the roku stops working) with an ever-decreasing amount of local alumni. Left after the 3rd; had a Cal fan therapy appointment.
BearsWillEndMyLife: Had to bootleg the game on my phone because thanks Larry. Perhaps coincidentally, my phone died RIGHT after Oregon reached #drop50. The first quarter looked like an Oregon scrimmage, where they just wanted to practice working through penalties and absurd yardage. We provided no actual functional defensive resistance, despite the lucky INT. The broadcast, understandably, was basically an Oregon lovefest. Just depressing to watch Wilcox wilt again against his alma mater.
Rose Bowl Oski: Drive to/from Eugene: 19 hours; hotel: $350; tickets: $148; weekend roadtrip with my daughter: Priceless.
BTown85: Was at Autzen for the game. Not sad to NOT have to play there every year in the near future..... Hope Javian will be alright......
What are your thoughts on Cal's passing game?
HaasBear: Tipped passes are becoming a huge issue.
Kj1980: Mendoza is the starter. The Int was a killer.
Machambo07@yahoo.com: Mendoza is the future…paying his dues now, but has the ability to be better than Nix.
The Ghost of Joe Roth: Fernando is one tough dude.
fuzzywuzzy: Mendoza is the answer, but needs a better Oline, obviously
BTown85: Most sacks were coverage sacks......feel bad for Fernando
Tangtp: Nando is a freshman who did about as well as a freshman can be expected to do against a CFP contender.
What are your thoughts on Cal's running game?
HaasBear: We are way too thin at RB
SRBear: Not horrible, but not explosive enough
Stan@safelink.net: Wasted days wasted nights
BearsWillEndMyLife: Again, meh. Ott is a star, and we have good depth behind him, which just needs to be developed. It's a shame our offensive line has been basically atrocious and riddled with injuries the last three years. I really hope Thomas is OK.
Rose Bowl Oski: Only a few openings against a stout defense
Tangtp: It's our strength that can only go as far as the passing game is willing to allow. Ott is a beast.
What are your thoughts on Cal's pass defense?
HaasBear: I just assume our projector broke so the team wasn’t able to watch film. Pass defense was no more than a slight inconvenience for UW.
Kj1980: NA. It did not show up.
fuzzywuzzy: Way too many blown coverages for an experienced group. They were torched so badly their unis should've looked more like Oregon's mud-n-mold mix scheme...
BearsWillEndMyLife: I can't remember the last time we left opposing receivers that wide open. We weren't even in the same zip code. The regression of Hearns is kinda shocking. I don't understand what our philosophy is anymore.
BTown85: For the strength of our defense, we made Bo look pretty good.
Tangtp: 37 yards to go turns into a touchdown. SMH
What are your thoughts on Cal's run defense?
HaasBear: So many attempts to arm tackle.
SRBear: Decent at the start, then bad
Stan@safelink.net: Pretty good then not too good
fuzzywuzzy: We definitely missed our starting LBs. Bad angles, and couldn't tackle anywhere near enough to stop this team.
BearsWillEndMyLife: We had no chance coming in with so many injuries and a size/talent disadvantage up front. This looked like a Dykes defense against Mark Helfrich, or late Tedford against Chip Kelly.
BTown85: Actually thought we did pretty good there......maybe because Bo could pass at will.
What are your thoughts on Cal's special teams?
HaasBear: Unlike other games, special teams didn’t lose us the game today.
Kj1980: We made field goals! The special teams were competent today.
fuzzywuzzy: At least we can make the FG's we should be making...
BearsWillEndMyLife: Again, why did we wait so long on Bhagani? Otherwise, our kick coverage has regressed, just like most other phases of the game. Though, this was about 24th on the list of why we lost.
Tangtp: Every kickoff should start on the 25 yard line unless the other team kicks it out of bounds. Period.
What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's performance?
HaasBear: Since Sirmon was elevated to DC the defense has regressed every single week. Guys out of position, busted coverages, poor technique and lack of discipline. I get we’re stuck with Wilcox but Sirmon should be left in Eugene.
Kj1980: The poor pass defense is at the hands of the coaches. It was embarrassing today.
The Ghost of Joe Roth: I like Wilcox a lot. To paraphrase Joe Starkey from 11-20-82, "Only a miracle can save him now." He's gotta go 3-0 and win a bowl game.
fuzzywuzzy: Dumpster fire, although part of this is injuries, but I can't believe Oregon actually offered Wilcox the HC job. DODGED A DUCKY BULLET THERE...If he really is a top quality coach, then the problem is deeper, meaing Cal should offer free therapy for long-time fans, because we'll stink up any league we're in.
BearsWillEndMyLife: Just pitiful. Oregon must be thrilled he didn't accept their offer in 2021. Wilcox is extraordinarily lucky his boss is an absent-minded enabler who wasn't fired two years ago, and his boss' boss is retiring. I was very excited when he was hired - it's a shame how quickly this has soured.
Rose Bowl Oski: We need to recruit more speed
Tangtp: Completely outmatched in all phases. This is what the difference is between an elite athletic program and, well, not an elite athletic program.
What are your thoughts on Cal's overall performance?
BearsWillEndMyLife: Most points given up under Wilcox. First time giving up 60+ since 66 at Washington in 2016 under Dykes. Worst collective defensive showing since either that UW game or the 2013 Big Game massacre. Guaranteed losing conference record for the 14th straight season. Did we preemptively recognize it would be better to get out of Oregon's way, so they could play Washington in a rematch in the PAC-12 title game, hopefully guaranteeing the winner a spot in the CFP, thus guaranteeing Cal a playoff monetary share? I get we were playing another Heisman-level QB, but in the first half of Wilcox's tenure, once this game reached 14-13, this definitely would have devolved into a winnable rock fight. Instead, we were outscored 49-6. He is no longer able to achieve results in the one specific area for which he was hired.
Tangtp: Nothing was a surprise about the game except the 1st quarter score. It was still lots of fun to be there. Hopefully we learned a thing or two about what it takes to be a really, really good football team.
The Ghost of Joe Roth: The Bears played hard. There were glimmers of hope. No, seriously, there were. Go Bears
HaasBear: Every day I pray to Oski for a big donor to step up and let us rid ourselves of Jim Knowlton.
Big thanks to all who participated this week after that massacre. I expect ratings ought to be better next week thanks to Wazzu’s current tailspin. That, or we will have fallen into a death spiral of our own…