No.4 Ohio State at California
Saturday, 7 PM, FOX
Line: Ohio State -15
Ohio State doesn’t travel that often for out of conference games. But the Buckeyes are hitting the road this week and traveling to Berkeley to take on the Cal Golden Bears in a Big Ten/Pac-12 intersectional matchup. Last year, the Buckeyes survived a scare from Cal, escaping at home with a 35-28 victory.
This year, Ohio State has gotten off to a good start again, going 2-0 in their first two games, But the Buckeyes faced a bit of challenge from Buffalo in week one, and lost starting quarterback Braxton Miller during the first drive in an easy victory over San Diego State. Meanwhile, Cal put up quite a fight in losing to Northwestern during week one and surviving a battle against Portland State last week.
Who knows what will happen in this matchup? Things could get very interesting in Strawberry Canyon.
For Cal to win: Don’t give up the explosive play. Early on in last week’s game against Portland State, the Golden Bears were beaten on several big plays. Ohio State is definitely a much tougher opponent than Portland State, and so you can expect the Buckeyes to be able to capitalize on blown defensive assignments easily.
For Ohio State to win: Pressure the quarterback. Two games into his collegiate career and Jared Goff has already made quite a name for himself. Goff has thrown for over 400 yards in two consecutive games, the first Cal quarterback to do so since 1996. He can expect the Ohio State defense to be a stiffer test this week. The Buckeyes absolutely cannot allow Goff to get into a rhythm or else it could be a very long day. Consistent, constant pressure, maybe with some exotic blitzes and coverages is going to be paramount to making sure that they do not get beaten through the air
Key Player, Cal: Jared Goff, quarterback. The true freshman was a bit of surprise starter, and two games into his career it is easy to see why Sonny Dykes chose him to run the “Bear Raid” offense. He did throw three interceptions in the game against Northwestern, though, and he has taken nine sacks through two games. So he has not been perfect thus far. However, if Goff goes for over 400 yards again and doesn’t turn it over or take a bad sack, there is a chance that Ohio State could find themselves in a bit of trouble.
Key Player, Ohio State: Jordan Hall, running back. Hall has already eclipsed his rushing yard total for last season through two games this year. He may wind up playing a very large role for the Buckeyes in this Cal game if Braxton Miller is still showing any linger effects from the MCL sprain he suffered against San Diego State. If Hall can carry some more of the load and keep Ohio State moving the chains, it could be key to limiting the wear and tear on Miller in this game.
Key Stat: 9-6. That is Ohio State’s record in their last 15 road openers. Of course, that is contrasted dramatically by Urban Meyer’s record in road openers. So far in his career, Meyer is 10-1 in road openers, with the only loss being in 2003 to Texas A&M in Meyer’s first year at Utah.