Cal’s defense — beat up and young and thin and overmatched and unable to generate turnovers and prone to missing tackles — has ranked as statistically one of the poorest in the nation all season.
But on Saturday, the Bears’ defense may not be the worst on the field.
That distinction may belong to host Colorado, whose defensive performance throughout the Pac-12 schedule has been even more troublesome.
Colorado WR Paul Richardson poised for another record-setting day
Compare these numbers from each team’s conference games:
Points per game allowed: Cal 45.9, Colorado 50.5
Yards per game allowed: Cal 514, Colorado 589.5
Margin of defeat: Cal 26.1 points, Colorado 34.5
Overall, Cal’s stats are somewhat worse than Colorado’s in most defensive categories. Those numbers don’t account for a disparity in the competition level each club faced in the nonconference.
Cal played Ohio State, Northwestern and Portland State — a top-5 opponent, a preseason top-25 foe (which since has slipped) and an FCS team.
Colorado faced Colorado State, Central Arkansas and Charleston Southern — a .500 team from the Mountain West Conference and two FCS teams.
After a 59-7 loss at Washington last Saturday, CU defensive coordinator Kent Baer counted 37 missed tackles, helping the Huskies total more than 250 yards after initial contact.
“I’ve never been part of that, ever,” first-year CU coach Mike MacIntyre told the Denver Post. “The most I’ve ever been a part of was, like, 20 (missed tackles). If you get above 10, you’re in trouble.”
It’s been a rough season for both teams. But Cal doesn’t have to be the worst defense on the field on Saturday.