When I posted the scouting report on Cal yesterday, one reader protested that all the stats were misleading because of Cal’s “weak non-conference schedule.”
Cal played at Minnesota and hosted Maryland and Eastern Washington while UW played at Notre Dame and hosted LSU and Idaho.
Overall, UW’s non-conference does read as a bit more difficult, even if the one road game for each is probaby exactly the same the way things turned out, Minnesota about as good as UND.
But I thought it a worthy point to explore, especially as each has played almost identical conference schedules.
Each has played the other eight conference teams, excluding each other. And each had a number of the same home and road games. In fact, the only difference in the Pac-10 schedules for the two teams is that UW hosted Oregon and played at Oregon State while Cal did it the other way around. Otherwise, their conference schedules were identical in terms of home and road games.
With all games included, Cal had pretty sizeable edges in most stats. Here are those:
Scoring offense — Cal 31.0 points per game, UW 24.6.
Scoring defense — Cal 22.9, UW 28.2.
Total offense — Cal 408.5 yards per game, UW 367.5.
Total defense — Cal 369.6, UW 398.0.
Rushing offense — Cal 184.4, UW 135.5.
Rushing defense — Cal 112.6, UW 155.0.
Passing offense — Cal 224.2, UW 232.0
Passing defense — Cal 257.0, UW 243;0
Here’s how the two teams stack up considering just conference games:
Scoring offense — Cal 24.3, UW 22.0
Scoring defense — Cal 26.3, UW 27.3
Total offense — Cal 378.75, UW 341.75
Total defense — Cal 407.25, UW 389.75
Rushing offense — Cal 159.8, UW 115.2
Rushing defense — Cal 131.5, UW 173.1
Passing offense — Cal 181.2, UW 212.2
Passing defense — Cal 276, UW 216
Unquestionably, the teams look more even statistically when only the conference games are considered, with the points per game on both sides almost a wash.
Still, even those can be parsed — Cal played a USC team that had Matt Barkley and UW didn’t. And Cal somewhat inexplicably gave up 385 passing yards to WSU, vastly impacting its pass defense number, though most came after the Bears took a 35-3 lead four minutes into the second quarter and let off the gas.
But the conference-only numbers do indicate a closer game than the overall stats (and by the way, I plan to get the conference-only numbers for all teams after the season to give a clearer view of exactly where UW stacked up this year).
The stats I keep coming back to, however, are the rushing numbers on each side of the ball, which each favor the Bears — and each by about the same as the total numbers . Cal won its last two games against Arizona and Stanford largely by outrushing each opponent, getting 176 against Arizona, 242 against Stanford, each teams that shut down the Huskies (216 combined for UW in those two games).
The numbers indicate UW should be able to throw the ball on the Bears, and if the Huskies can do that, they should be able to stay in this one throughout. But especially this late in the season, when the weather is cold and legs are getting weary, I generally side with the team with the better running game. So call it Cal 35, UW 27.