Ohio State/Cal—A Few Opening Thoughts...
In their third straight home game to start the season, the (2-0) Buckeyes will play host to the (1-1) California Golden Bears in a non-conference tilt Saturday at Noon on ABC.
Ohio State easily disposed on Miami-OH, 56-10, to open the season, then defeated a talented and feisty UCF team in week two, 31-16.
In the win, starting tailback Carlos Hyde suffered a sprained MCL and could miss at least a game or two, meaning freshman Bri'onte Dunn and senior Jordan Hall, who is expected to return this week following off-season foot surgery, will share some of the load out of the backfield, along with QB Braxton Miller.
Cal somewhat-unexpectedly opened the season with a 31-24 home loss to Nevada, but then rebounded a week later by defeating Southern Utah at home, 50-31.
The prospect of starting 1-3 is very real for the Bears as they play in the L.A. Coliseum against No. 2 USC next week after facing the No. 12 Buckeyes in Columbus tomorrow—possibly the toughest back-to-back road game slate that any team will face all season.
Through two weeks, here are where Ohio State and Cal rank and compare statistically on offense:
The Buckeyes are 45th in total defense and 25th in scoring defense, allowing 13 points per game. Cal is 76th in total defense and 92nd in scoring defense, allowing 31 points per game.
You can get a full game preview via ESPN by clicking here.
Ohio State—California History Lesson And Trends
• Urban Meyer coached teams are 36-4 in the month of September.
• Ohio State is 59-7 in Ohio Stadium since the start of the 2002 season.
• Ohio State is 7-3 in its last 10 games vs. Pac-12 teams, dating back to 1997.
• Ohio State's defense has held opponents to 10 points or less 37 times since 2006.
• Ohio State's defense has allowed just nine 100-yard rushers in their last 51 games.
• Ohio State has held 69 opponents to 21 points or less since the start of the 2005 season.
• This is the seventh meeting between Ohio State and Cal. Ohio State leads the series 5-1.
• Ohio State has won 59 consecutive regular season non-conference home games vs. unranked opponents.
• Cal is 13-19 (.406) vs. top 25 opponents since 2001.
• This is just Cal's 3rd trip east of the Mississippi since 2003.
• Cal is 14-5 vs. BCS opponents under coach Jeff Tedford (2001-2011).
• Cal is 5-2 in non-conference away games vs. BCS opponents since 2002.
Final Thoughts and Score Prediction
With Cal losing at home to Nevada, it's clear Ohio State is the better team. That being said, Cal isn't going to lay down and die on their own. But they may with some help from the Buckeye offense and especially the Buckeye defense.
So far, Ohio State has not been dominant up front or gotten to the QB as much as expected and coach Meyer was visually displeased on the sideline with the defensive effort against UCF last weekend, so one has to believe there was a ton of emphasis put into pressuring the opposing QB this week at practice.
I might be a little concerned if this game was being played at Berkeley, but since it's not, I'm not very concerned at all. That doesn't mean I expect a blowout, but a double-digit win to atone for a somewhat lackluster win last week should be in the cards for the Bucks.
Ohio State 45
"To be a champion, you have to believe in yourself when no one else will" - Sugar Ray Robinson