After some mighty Columbus home cooking in the Buckeyes’ first two games, the Ohio State Buckeyes head west to take on the Golden Bears of California. The Buckeyes have outscored teams 87-27 thus far, but California should be a few levels above Buffalo and SDSU in the competition department.
The Golden Bears come into the game with a 1-1 record. They fell to the (then) 22nd ranked Northwestern in their first week of competition before beating Portland State in week two. Their opening loss wasn’t pretty, falling by fourteen, but their second week was even uglier, albeit the win. Facing off against a FCS team, California just barely squeaked out a seven point victory after trailing with eight minutes to go. Things certainly won’t be getting easier for Sonny Dykes’ squad, as they face the 4th ranked Buckeyes this week followed by the 2nd ranked Oregon Ducks.
Shaky performance aside, there are certainly many positives for the Golden Bears. The offense is headed by true freshman Jared Goff. The 20th ranked quarterback from last year’s recruiting class, Goff has exceeded all expectations so far. Through two games, he has managed to garner an astounding 935 yards, tops in all of college. The number one ranked passing offense in the NCAA is certainly nothing to scoff at. In the backfield, Dykes employs a three-man tandem of Daniel Lasco, Khalfani Muhammad (top 100 recruit), and Brendan Bigelow. Bigelow has gotten the bulk of the carries, but hasn’t been overly impressive thus far, ranking 98th in the NCAA. Nearly all of their yards came from rushes around the edge, a scheme that will need some fixing up if they want to find success against the Buckeyes’ athletic defensive ends.
But the Buckeyes know better than to overlook Bigelow. In last year’s contest, Bigelow toted the rock for 160 yards, on just four carries! The astounding 40 ypc and two touchdowns led to an admiring Buckeye fan sending Bigelow a letter, which he keeps on his wall to this day. (full article here)
The California defense certainly is nothing to write home about, unless that letter home is requesting a complete overhaul. The 116th ranked defense (total yards allowed per game) was dismantled last weekend by Portland State for 553 yards. The 109th ranked rushing defense should be prepared to be dismantled by Braxton Miller and Jordan Hall. Even if Miller’s knee injury is worse than we have speculated, backup quarterback Kenny Guiton is very athletic and adept at leading the OSU offense. The 104th ranked passing defense has been shredded for 607 yards so far this season… and that has been against Kieran McDonagh and Trevor Siemian… not Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton.
While it seems that I debunked by previous statement of California being tougher competition then the Buckeye’s previous two opponents, the Jared Goff factor does make the Golden Bears more difficult to prep for. The Golden Bears have run 194 snaps this season, most of any team, so OSU must be ready to run. With the accelerated rate of plays, the Buckeyes’ defense must be well conditioned, particularly the big boys up front. Earlier this week, it was mentioned that OSU may have been practicing fake injuries to slow down the California offense, but that rumor was quickly shot down by the coaching staff. The most pressure will be on the secondary, no doubt. The OSU secondary has allowed 401 passing yards this season, quite pedestrian for a 4th ranked team in the nation. Last week, San Diego St. backup quarterback Quinn Kaehler was able to rack up 216 yards, but nearly all of that yardage came in garbage time after the Buckeyes knocked out starting quarterback Adam Dingwell by intercepting him on the Aztecs’ second possession. Another week of Bradley Roby should continue to boost the OSU secondary, but this will still be the biggest area of concern for Coach Meyer & company.
After last week’s beat down of the Aztecs, the Buckeyes should be flying into Berkley full of confidence this weekend. As long as the front seven is well conditioned and the secondary is prepared for the Goff attack, the Golden Bears will have no chance in this one. Look for the Buckeyes offense to have a field day, as OSU should claw the Bears to move to 3-0.