There are several interesting stats of note going into this week’s game against the Golden Bears from California, here are a few of the more intriguing ones.
Points Per Game
I’ll tell you what, college football is such a high scoring affair these days that the numbers for points per game are just silly on the whole. Take the Pac-12 Conference for instance; Cal is just barely outscoring Washington State 29.3 to 28.2 on a game by game basis. It’s not particularly odd given the overall talent on the defenses each team has faced. What’s interesting is that those numbers are no better than 10th and 11th in the Pac. I’ll give you one guess on who’s last at 26 ppg (hint: coach fired).
In the past, this stat has murdered the Cougs, but this season the Cougars have improved to 4th in Pac-12 in efficiency with only 28 penalties for around 45 yards in five games. Cal is not doing so hot and this could tip this week’s game in favor of the Cougs. The Golden Bears have 32 penalties for an average of 66 yards per contest through only four contests.
In an almost laughable stat the Bears and Cougars are the worst two teams in the conference when it comes to taking care of the football. Cal has lost it 11 times for a -3 ratio, while WSU has lost it 13 times for a -4 ratio. That also means the Cougar defense has taken it away a single time more thus far.
3rd Down Conversion Rate
Another stat that will make a huge difference this weekend and again, both teams are neck and neck. Cal sits at 9th with a 40.79% conversion rate while Wazzu is 10th at 38.57%. Meanwhile the Cougar defense is only allowing a conversion rate of 30.67% while the Bears give up an average of 36.84%
We know this much, the ball will be in the air a whole lot on Saturday. Cal throws it for around 371 per game while WSU throws for 327, good for 2nd and 5th in the Pac respectively. So the difference, it would seem will be on defense. We saw last Saturday that the Cougs were vulnerable in the secondary, but they were also adding a guy in the box to stop the run of Stanford. Even with the 322 the Cougs gave up, they still sit at 2nd in the conference allowing only 159 yards per football game. Cal is allowing 250 yards per contest. I’d say that’s a big time advantage for WSU.
Hey, is there an edge for the Golden Bears, you ask? Why, yes there is, in the redzone. Cal is converting at a rate of over 88% (15 of 17) on their opportunities while the Cougars are only converting on just over 68% (13 of 19). Oddly enough, the Cougars are out-touchdowning the Bears percentage-wise 57 – 51%, but Jeff Goff has thus far been far more careful with the ball than Connor Halliday inside the 20. The Cougs seem to be an all or nothing team inside that mark, only trying (and converting) two field goals to Cal’s six makes. Each team by the way, has missed a single field goal on the season.