College football is weird sometimes. It’s one of the weirdest sports I can think of. Among last week’s losers were the No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No. 6, No. 8, No. 14, No. 15, No. 16, No. 17, No. 18 and No. 19 teams in the country, and that wasn’t even the weirdest thing that happened, because Saturday night’s football game against Washington State was honestly one of the most bizarre sporting events I’ve ever witnessed.
Saturday was so weird that I’ve given up trying to put my thoughts into a coherent narrative, because doing so wouldn’t accurately portray the chaos on the field nor the confusion in my head. With that said, here are my 19 takeaways from the Cal vs. Washington State game:
1. That Saturday night Cal allowed Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday to throw for 734 yards, breaking an FBS record that had stood for 24 years, and that the Cougars still somehow lost the game.
2. That Trevor Davis’ back-to-back kick returns for touchdowns look so identical that I’m pretty sure if you showed film to the coaching staff, they wouldn’t be able to say which came first and which came second.
3. That when talking about the 19-yard missed field goal, head coach Sonny Dykes said, “I talked to our defense there in the fourth quarter and just told them, ‘Hey, look. We need one stop.’ If we get one stop in this ball game, we will win the thing, and we got a stop right at the end.”
4. That I have no idea how anyone, even coaches and players, can call a 19-yard missed field goal a “stop.”
5. That I have a better phrase for it: Dumb luck.
6. Actually, no, I have an even better phrase for it: Coug’n it.
7. That if you don’t know what “Coug’n it” is, it’s when Washington State running back Gerard Wicks almost definitely scores a touchdown on first down but is ruled just short, and the Cougars run to the line to get the next play snapped as quick as they can to avoid a review so they can take more time off the clock, and then miss the ensuing field goal and lose the game.
8. That regardless of how it got there, the leader in the Pac-12 North is currently Cal, which is 2-1 in the conference, and that the only team to have beaten Cal is currently 5-0 and just knocked off then-No. 2 Oregon in Eugene.
9. That the team that beat Cal is Arizona, which just jumped to No. 10 in the rankings after being unranked, and that Cal just received votes in the AP poll for the first time since 2011.
11. That one of the games included in that average was against Sacramento State, which is a bad team even by FCS standards.
12. That the Bears’ pass defense, which is giving up 426.6 yards per game, is the worst in the country by more than 80 yards per game, and that while that stat is inflated by Connor Halliday’s insane game Saturday, Cal still has to face Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Cody Kessler and Sean Mannion.
13. That if you take the Sacramento State game out of that last statistic and only include teams from Power-5 conferences, Cal is giving up 487.3 passing yards per game.
14. That 90 out of 123 FBS schools give up fewer than 487.3 yards of TOTAL offense — passing and rushing — to their opponents, even when controlling for games that are only against Power-5 schools.
15. That really the only discernible difference between this year’s team and last year’s is that now the offense, which is the second-best scoring offense in the country, can somehow bail out the mistakes of the defense.
16. That the #drop50 hashtag that’s been floating around Twitter the last few weeks is officially dead, because if Cal had dropped only 50 points in its last two games it would have lost both of them.
17. That Cal never even dropped 40, much less 50, points last season but has somehow managed to cross the half-century mark three times in five games this year.
18. That this team’s schedule is backloaded, we’ve known it’s been backloaded for months, and that Cal will probably be an underdog in every game from here on out and could easily finish the season 4-8 just as easily as it could 8-4.
19. That Cal makes no sense, college football makes no sense, and that sports analysis is hard, man.