Rating the Bears: Cal vs. Wazzu Football

Hello darkness, my old friend...

In 2017 the Washington State game was a delightful preview of what many of us hoped was the future of the Wilcox regime. Almost four years later, the 2021 game was another painful reminder that Cal’s upward trajectory from 2017-2019 has reversed course. Rather than asking ourselves how high the program can go, now we’re asking how low can the program go and whether it can recover to an acceptable performance baseline under Justin Wilcox. Fun times…

Rating the Bears

Saturday’s game gave us the third-worst ratings of the Wilcox era behind the 2019 Utah game, when if felt like the entire team was injured on the road against an 11-win Utah team, and the 2018 UCLA game, when Chip Kelly’s winless Bruins dominated Cal in another embarrassing homecoming loss (unfun fact: Cal has lost all four homecoming games under Wilcox).

In a change from recent weeks, pass offense was not the highest rated category and special teams did not receive the lowest ratings. Rather, run defense earned the highest scores of the week and coaching earned some ominously low scores. If these coaching scores keep dragging down the ratings, we’re going to have some new coaches to evaluate next season.

Already low before the start of the season, predictions of a win over Oregon have plummeted. Fortunately, Oregon has a bad habit of looking underwhelming for long stretches of time, so perhaps Cal has a chance? Of course not, don’t be silly.

Ratings Comparison

It has been a bizarre mix of games against Wazzu since we started this series. From the excruciating win in the 2010 Brock Mansion game to the wild 60-59 shootout in 2014 to the smoke-filled blowout in 2017, the ratings here cover a wide range of outcomes.

Saturday’s game was down there with the worst games against Wazzu in recent history.

And while no single category was historically bad compared to the rest of the Wilcox era, the net sum of the scores was good enough for third-worst game since 2017.


As gloomy as the mood may be around here this week, we must hand out some awards. First, the lowest scores of the week.

Old Blues

Wow, those are horrific. I don’t think we’ve seen a collection of bottom-5 scores this bad since the 2016 or 2013 seasons.

Sunshine Pumpers

Except for Calamo’s delusions of grandeur, all these scores fell under 45%. That’s horrific.

The Voice of Reason

Finally, those whose ratings were closest to the community average.

Now let’s peruse the minefield that is this week’s comments.


Any comments on the gameday experience?

  •  ​​TD_24 - Looked dead inside Memorial. Not shocked and morale could only go down after this.

  • ShanghaiDave - Lifeless and dead, like the end of an era.

  • FuzzyWuzzy - Years past, I would have been sad to only be able to access Cal Games live via AM radio. Today...good choice. Thanks Larry Scott...?

  • RememberTheCalamo - I love the weather. I love everything about football weekends, especially homecoming. Even though we're terrible the overall experience is always great.

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - Sold my ticket due to not wanting to breathe the same airspace as the anti-vaxxer Rolovich. Turned off the game after going backwards from the 2-yard line with 11 minutes to go. Too frustrated to keep watching.

  • Goldenone - Very hot in the stands, surrounded by mostly saddened souls, especially after the botched PAT.

  • Old Bear 71 - The Experience was, as has so often been the case in my 56 years of Cal fandom, far better than the Game played by the Bears in Strawberry Canyon on Saturday. Ah, I've paid the extra dough for Sling so I can subject myself and Mrs. Bear to the fine and pleasant misery that is Cal football. Prior to game day we scout for ripe, perfect avocados and whip up exquisite guacamole. Game day wings are often supplied by Publix's deli. Alternatively Nachos!: Chips, cheddar, seasoned taco meat, taco sauce all spread in gentle layers, then fired in the oven or microwave to be enjoyed during the festivities. This week we watched the tail-end of Orygun-Furd until time for Bears football in Berkeley. Ready to cheer from 2,722.1 miles away via I-40 (per Google Maps). All set for a romp. Well, anyway the guacamole was delicious, wings came through as usual, savory and tasty. I kept my Cal hat in place till half time. After the second half opening "drive'" by the Bears, I spun it backwards (first time in my recorded history to wear a baseball cap backwards). Mrs. Bear commented snidely, "You are really disgusted here." "No," I said, "I just Really want the Bears to turn it around!" Mrs. Bear replied (snidely again), " Like That's going to happen." She too has absorbed decades of pain and punishment of Cal fandom. But since she is smarter than I am, she invests much less emotion in the game's outcome and just enjoys the wings and guacamole while sympathizing with me (not snidely). Wish I could do that.

What are your thoughts on Cal's passing game?

  • Diasfordays - What is pass protection?

  • Heyalumngi - What pass offense? OL couldn't block worth shit. Garbers didn't have enough time to wait for a route longer than 15 yards develop. Bounced quite a few throws.

  • Tangtpt - Where'd it go? Again, the play calling is sometimes insane. 4th and 4 and we run an empty backfield set? Wha???

  • Sacman701 - 152 yards on 30 attempts, and 29 yards lost on 4 sacks. That works out to 3.7 yards per attempt against a bad defense, which is the definition of futility.

What are your thoughts on Cal's running game?

  • KJ1980 - Ok at times. But got stuffed at the end when it became too predictable.

  • ShanghaiDave - Showed some good bursts on the inside, but eventually stagnated.

  • Diasfordays - We should really use our players. Chris Street is a talented back not getting snaps until it's too late... Which means he'll probably transfer and flourish else whet... *sigh*

  • 1988goldenbear - Nice to see Brooks bully his way through on the TD run. That's about it.

  • Goldenone - Mediocre but we got a new face out there - Chris Street who averaged over six yards per carry. Apparently Moore went to the doghouse after fumbling on his first carry, making it two fumbles in a row dating back to the UW game.

What are your thoughts on Cal's pass defense?

  • KJ1980 - Mediocre to poor. At least it did not give up as many yards as against Sac State

  • Northtunnelecho - Bad.

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - What pass defense? I have no idea what Sirmon does all week in practice.

  • Goldenone - Weak at first but gradually improved. Still way too many pitch and catch plays to wide open receivers.

  • Sacman701 - Pretty good after the first two awful series.

What are your thoughts on Cal's run defense?

  • TD_24 - LB's can't tackle, DL's tries to arm tackle every time and fails miserably, leading to guys like Mclintosh and Borghi to bulldoze us for extra yards.

  • RememberTheCalamo - Tackle your man. Do our guys have a sled? Are they using it? Do they need more snacks to put on more weight?

  • Diasfordays - Statistically, passable I suppose. But situationally, so many times Wazzu needed some yards and just took 'em. Idk. Life is a blur.

  • Texashaterforlife - ugh

  • 1988goldenbear - Run D didn't seem to be too bad. It was just so easy for Wazzu to move the ball by passing.

  • Goldenone - Adequate.

  • Sacman701 - Wazzu's backs found some space, but this wasn't the reason we lost.

What are your thoughts on Cal's special teams?

  • FuzzyWuzzy - Punting isn't wining, but we weren't bad today

  • RememberTheCalamo - I almost gave them a zero. A blocked punt turned into a first down? A point after snap that the holder missed? Wtf? We would have been in a better place if we could kick field goals. We're not going to win a lot of games if we can't score 3 points ever.

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - Just stop. Be like Presbyterian College - don't ever punt, always go for 2. Why does Ragle still have a job?

  • 1988goldenbear - Can we go back to Special Teams being inconsequential? Instead of an embarrassment?

  • Tangtpt - Actually, with the exception of the blown EP snap, I thought that the punting and punt coverage units were very good. Good, deep punts that did not give the receiver a chance at a return.

What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's performance?

  • TD_24 - The coaches look done, uninspired, out of energy, you name it it is probably wrong for the coaches. Ragle and Sirmon stink, and Musgrave takes the worst games off.

  • FuzzyWuzzy - I don't think they planned for this regression on Offense, but it happened, so other than kudos for Wilcox taking the blame, they obviously all need to start game planning suing one of cornerstones of capitalism - cheat like your life depends on it. If they haven't figured out how to coach up the new 3-star guys and a senior QB to beat Wazzu, I doubt they'll figure it out this decade. Also, maybe drag out the ol' John McKay-Brian Kelley quip about execution.

  • BearsWillEndMyLife - Musgrave needs to go, now. I don't care about the stats. He actively prevents this offense from moving forward. I have never seen such head-scratching playcalling.

  • 1988goldenbear - Thoroughly out-coached today. I guess Rolovich and Jonathan Smith are the new "coaches-to-watch", and the shine has completely worn off Wilcox. That was a debacle.

  • Tangtpt - Don't know what else to say that is a repeat from several of you here. I have been a Wilcox supporter because I think he is the kind of coach that Cal fans can be proud of. However, running a clean program goes only so far and results have to follow, and soon.

What are your thoughts on Cal's overall performance?

  • TD_24 - Team looks lifeless. Players look like they don't care. It is a reflection of the coaching staff too, who look like they couldn't have given less of a crap. Almost want to crash and burn so we get a new staff.

  • ShanghaiDave - Sigh……Let the carnage begin and then the rebuilding in the off-season

  • RememberTheCalamo - I think football has so much going for it otherwise (i.e. the setting and the weather the pageantry and the band and the weather) that it's hard not to enjoy a weekend back in the bay even though I know it won't end well. I'd like to see us improve football but I'd actually like us to improve basketball first if we had to prioritize a sport because basketball doesn't have all those other things keeping me interested.

  • Diasfordays - The burden of expectations has been lifted and I will now watch games without the anxiety of a fan who believes their team has a chance to win.

  • Texashaterforlife - When Cal lost to Nevada this year; I had PTSD flashbacks to 2012. Glad to see my brain was just overreacting to the Red Pill. The season can only be salvaged with a win over USC and Stanford. Other than that, time to plan a FIRESALE!!

  • Goldenone - Kind of a beatdown that wasn't as close as the final score would indicate…

The good news is that we won’t lose this weekend. See you all after the *gulp* Oregon game.