Rating the Bears: Cal vs. UCLA Football
A reasonable set of ratings in the season finale
Another season has come to a close. With fourteen seasons and over 150 games in our Rating the Bears database, it’s time to look at one final set of ratings before taking a nine-month nap and doing it all over again next season (hopefully with more pleasant results). Speaking of pleasant results, however, this week’s grades were pretty good, especially for a loss.
Rating the Bears
Run defense is the lone outlier as the UCLA O-line and Charbonnet ran all over the Bears yet again. Except for the 2019 game in which the Cal defense stifled UCLA’s rushing attack and held them to 58 yards on 1.7ypc, UCLA has eclipsed 200 rushing yards in every matchup between Wilcox and Kelly. Besides that, ratings fared reasonably well. Plummer and the passing game led the way with a rare score in the 80s thanks to Plummer’s season-high 4 TDs. With plenty of 60s and 70s, this was a remarkably highly rated game for a loss.
Below we compare Friday’s ratings to all other UCLA games in recent memory.
Other than run defense, ratings were much better than usual. Those rectangles capture the middle 50% of the data, and it’s remarkable how much of a spread there is in the data. The huge spread is due to the fact that 11 of the 14 games in the data have been decided by double digits, with Cal winning four of those and UCLA winning seven.
Compared to the rest of the Wilcox Era, the ratings compare favorably.
Pass offense is much higher than usual while pass defense, coaching, and overall fare quite well. Again, it’s impressive how high these ratings are for a loss.
One final set of awards this year…
First, the lowest ratings of the week.
Several of these are close enough that if you asked the professor very nicely, the grade might get rounded up to a D-
The highest grades of the week.
Keep on Pumping that Sunshine, Calamo. We’ll need it this offseason.
The Voice of Reason
Finally, those whose grades were closest to the community average.
And I suppose I might as well give a participation award to everyone who participated this season, especially after grueling losses like the road trips to Boulder and Corvallis. Your commitment to giving us these ratings has allowed us to run this series for an incredible thirteen seasons now. Now if only we could get Substack to allow embedding of the Google Form like we could back at CGB…
Finally, let’s review the last batch of comments from the season
Any comments on the gameday experience?
KJ1980 - Memorial was fuller than I thought it would be. But too many obnoxious Ruin fans. Cal hung in there and made it a game. The Bears beat the spread. And they could have made it really interesting without the two fumbles, the punt return one that led to 3 Bruin points and Ott's fumble to close out the game. I would have been so surprised and happy with a win. Oh well. Another year without a bowl game. Another year without the Rose Bowl. Another Cal year.
Old Bear 71 - I want going to watch this game but after the England vs USA soccer match the fam was ready for American football. So since Fox carried both we stayed tuned in. I’m really glad we did. The first 29 minutes was fun. Last seconds of both halves were not. But I enjoyed a competitive effort from our Bears and did not feel that it was over till it actually was.
RememberTheCalamo - I'm still basking in post Big Game victory.
Bowelsman88 - Watching in "enemy territory," in other words, Southern California, my hoots and hollers when Cal amazed us were either a source of curiosity or "meh" to my neighbors. It's still and especially all about USC down here. Or so it would seem.
Heyalumnigo - Missed the tailgate since No 2 didn't want to get up early. There were more fans at Memorial than I thought there would be given it's Thanksgiving weekend. The lines getting into Memorial were surprisingly long, especially the South and SW entrances, given the game wasn't close to being sold out.
What are your thoughts on Cal's passing game?
MBrew3 - Solid day for the pass offense, Hunter had a big day catching the ball.
Sacman701 - Not bad. We effectively used a variety of quick throws and took advantage of some UCLA busts. No picks or sacks.
Goldenone - Effective this time around. Plummer had a bit more time and even wide receiver screens were effective literally for the first time this season!
Old Bear 71 - Where has the pass protection been all year? Plummer and co. were good enough today to have won several previous games this season. Our receivers were money.
What are your thoughts on Cal's running game?
KJ1980 - Ott did his best. But the fumble at the end off the pass was a killer
Frisco Bear - Offensive line, Offensive line, Offensive line needs to improve drastically over the off season
Bowelsman88 - Jayden got a bit of space and found some creases. Overall, the talented defensive line made it an uphill struggle. Let's be clear, this is a VERY good UCLA team and we should be happy for the damage we did.
Heyalumnigo - Struggled to run the ball all game. Seemed like UCLA started the game stacking the box and dared Cal to throw the ball.
What are your thoughts on Cal's pass defense?
Old Bear 71 - Good show all day.
Goldenone - Bend but don't break prevented long completions but UCLA had their way from 15 yards and inward.
Sacman701 - Not very disruptive again, but UCLA had just one completion over 20 yards and as a result ended up with just 6.3 yards per pass.
What are your thoughts on Cal's run defense?
Old Bear 71 - What can Wilcox’s guys learn from Chip and others about O line construction and maintenance? Great backs are merely good to average without great blocking. Our run defense was mauled by their O line. Ott in Charbonnet’s place would have 3,000 yards this year. Anyway our run defense had several outstanding stops and little else.
Bowelsman88 - Ouch, tough assignment, even with a well, healthy, and rested Cal defense. Charbonnet and DTR are forces of nature and it looks like Harden is up and coming. Their offensive line is massive, talented, deep, and well-coached. I can't criticize and I will point out that UCLA fell short of their average points, but I will also point out that we have, in the recent past, held them to even less points.
MBrew3 - It was a rough day in which the defense was ran all over, however they did have a couple of stops, unfortunately it was not enough.
Texashaterforlife - Make sure the recruiting priority is D-line that are run stuffers; and back in the weight room Monday morning for those returning.
What are your thoughts on Cal's special teams?
Goldenone - The fake punt with the direct snap to Sirmon was a thing of beauty, kick returns were good.
Heyalumnigo - The fumbled PR was a killer. Looked like he had a lane on the first cut but the PR decided to take his time and that allowed the D to catch up.
Wiata78 - Not great, but might have been good enough except for that fumble.
What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's performance?
Old Bear 71 - I felt they were much looser and made better play calls on offense. They didn’t have our Bears quite ready to stop la’s run game. But in fairness nobody else has held them down either.
BTown85 - Take away those turnovers and Cal wins this one. I have a hard time pinning fumbles on the coaches when our best skill players lose the ball.
Bowelsman88 - Welp, during this game, for some fleeting moments, I was thinking that surely Wilcox has the chops to be our breakthrough coach. But, then, here we are, once again, with yet another moral victory where we beat the spread, but could not pull the upset. Honestly, I really like JW, his defensive coaching is an obvious bonus for us, but he reminds me of a salesperson who makes more friends than actually closing deals. But this inability to close a close game pre-exists JW. Honestly, from the 1970s, I learned that if the game is close in the fourth quarter, then one might as well bet on the opposing team. I roughly estimate, over the past 50 years, we have about a one-in-four chance of winning a close game (one reason The Play was, for us, beyond the 'miracle" finish NCAAF celebrates; it was, if you will, a double miracle). Yes, the Bear does not quit, but the Bear does have a tendency to fold when it's an uphill struggle. Are we under a curse? Is it that ultimately, we as a football culture are blase' and take the path of least resistance? This is why I have doubts that a new HC would make a big difference. Maybe it's not JW, maybe it's us. Maybe he's not our breakthrough coach, but maybe he's the coach we deserve, for now, and, maybe, Lincoln Riley falls just as flat were he our new coach (as an example, not a probability). As has been said, again and again, there is a high-level, systemic blase' about Cal football that, so long as it prevails, means there will be no long-term change for the better, just more middling, but with lots of moral victories to give us just enough pan et circi.
MBrew3 - Solid day again, the new collective offensive coordinator is much better, the ball getting out of Plummer's hand quickly is really important, would have liked to see a whole season of this.
Sacman701 - The offensive game plan was good, we were able to move the ball and stay in the game despite our limitations. Our defense doesn't have the horses to stop good running attacks.
What are your thoughts on Cal's overall performance?
Old Bear 71 - Two lost fumbles were the difference between a legit shot at a win and a close loss. Otherwise the team played well and did not quit. Sadly our seniors did not go out with a win but they played proud!
Frisco Bear - 5 loses by 7 points or less. Little things matter (along with having an offensive line). Love Coach Wilcox, but his seat is getting hot. Hoping we can get to a winning record and a decent bowl next year.
Goldenone - Another close loss and what could have been. I honestly think that without Ott's fumble inside of two minutes we could have come back and won the game.
Sacman701 - Not bad, we took a better team to the wire even though we couldn't run or stop the run. As disappointing as the season was, four of the eight losses were by one score to teams that finished the regular season in the top 25.
MBrew3 - Rough season, looking forward to a potentially better team next year, hopefully they retain the skill players.
Thanks to all who participated in this weekly series! We’ll be back again in 280 days to review the Bears’ opening game in Denton against North Texas.