GoldenBearReport - Five Things: Big Game 2019
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Five Things: Big Game 2019

When you go 0.4-0.5 in Five Things, bad stuff happens. Like, a 41-17 loss to your rivals happens.

1) Takers - L - This...was unanticipated, to say the least.

2) Pressure Slovis - L - It's not entirely fair to call it a loss, since they did pressure him -- PFF had it at 30% of the pass attempts, even. They just could not bother him or knock him out of rhythm.

3) QB - L - Chase was doing fantastic until he got hurt again, with two drops knocking down his completion rating. Modster, however, found nothing open and the game got too far away from them to try to run anymore.

4) Drake Jackson - DRAW - Didn't end up totally destroying the line, although USC still recorded five sacks with minimal extra rushers.

5) Keep the Momentum Going - L - It's not that they deviated from the gameplan or things they showed last week on offense. It's that they got totally and completely undressed by USC in the second half.

Next up, the most winnable Big Game in the last 10 years. Actually getting that Axe starts with...

1) NO HANGOVERS - It's really easy to get down on ourselves following a loss of that magnitude, in those circumstances, on senior night. But bowl eligibility is still on the table. The Axe is still on the table. And even if, God forbid, they lose this game, there's still a meaningful one after that. If Wilcox manages correctly, which he often does, then he'll have them ready to bounce back. (He did it for WSU, and that was also when the season looked lost.)

2) SCORING TOUCHDOWNS - This...is a standard point against every run-heavy opponent. The last few years, our inability to punch it in during a shortened game has hurt the Bears dearly, especially when the Cardinal do just enough.

Maybe not this year, though -- inside the 20, Shaw is being forced to kick a field goal 43% of the time, which might prove to be the difference. Without as dominant of a running back or tight end as usual, the opportunity is ripe for the Bears in a strugglefest.

(Stanford's number in this statistic was 26% in 2018, and 23.73% in 2017).

If you're wondering, dear reader, Cal is at 22.73%, which is somewhat misleading because you have to get to the 20 to be forced to kick a field goal at all.

3) THESE AIN'T THOSE CARDS - Finally, the toll of rebuilding appears to have caught up with the Cardinal some. They're dealing with some injuries too -- this week, both KJ Costello and Paulson Adebo are out, for example, to say nothing of guys lost earlier in the year like Ricky Miezan or Jacob Mangum-Farrar, but I mean in the actual sense of the word too. Stanford is not that Stanford team. The eye test already supports what the numbers do -- that they rank the lowest they've been in SP+ in some time.

(Image courtesy of Bill Connelly's season preview before he left for ESPN.)

In 2019, they have an SP+ of 76th, which means they're below the conference average. So is Cal, but that's a whole other thing.

4) RUN THE BALL -- Of their many weaknesses is this one: they are extremely gettable on the ground, and they're allowing successful, efficient yardage (by Football Outsiders' definition: A measure of running back consistency based on the percentage of carries where the player gains 40% of needed yards on first down ((so 2nd and 6 usually)) , 60% of needed yards on second down ((3rd and 2 usually)), or 100% of needed yards on third or fourth down((usually conversion))) on nearly half their runs, a number that's near the bottom of the country.

Before the game got away from them against USC, the Bears were able to find some room for Chris Brown and Deshawn Collins. Making that a point of emphasis could yield good results once again.

5) APPROPRIATE FEAR -- I could have picked many things to go here, but the truth is the Stanford offense has ticked up some as of late, recording passing games of 322, 245, and 504 yards the last couple of weeks, the last figure courtesy of Davis Mills, who will likely be the QB on Saturday.

It's not a particularly fearsome group now that McCaffrey, Arcega-Whiteside, and Love are gone -- the Cardinal are still looking to produce that one playmaker who torments the Pac-12 weekly, and this, to me, is why the Bears have the best chance of all. When it comes time to ice the clock like usual, Shaw's options are decidedly more limited.

Still, nothing should be taken for granted. It's possible that 6'7 Colby Parkinson busts out in a big way. Connor Wedington and Michael Wilson are also bigger than our DBs slightly, and Simi Fehoko caught two touchdowns last week. They're not USC's bunch of wideouts, sure, but at this point, needing a win of any kind, they can't assume anything at all. While you have to feel really good about Weaver being back to maximum effectiveness in this one, after facing a team that only ran 24% of the time two weeks ago, and an Air Raid-spread team that simply did not need to run whatsoever last week (although their 45% run rate on the season is equal to that of Stanford's), the Takers will have to join