When the California Golden Bears hit the road to square off against the No. 12 Ohio State Buckeyes on their home field Saturday afternoon, the excitement in the building will only be matched by the intense action on the field.
This matchup has a “Big Game” feel to it.
The Buckeyes are trying to find their style and niche under new head coach Urban Meyer, but they must be careful not to underestimate a strong Cal team that has Ohio State on upset alert.
Who ya got?
Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
Live Stream: Big Ten Network To Go
Radio: Free Football Radio
Betting Line (via Covers)
Over/Under: 52.5, Spread: Ohio State -17
While a 52.5 point over/under is something very common in college football, there is no way bettors should be going anywhere near it this time around. If you have to bet, though, take the over and California getting 17 points.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
Chris McCain, LB, Questionable
Matt Summers-Gavin, OL, Questionable
Khairi Fortt, LB, Questionable
David Wilkerson, LB, Out for season
Cecil Whiteside, LB, Out for season
Mustafa Jalil, DL, Out indefinitely
Jason Gibson, LB, Out until Mid Nov
Mark Brazinski, OL, Out indefinitely
Dominic Galas, OL, Out indefinitely
Stefan McClure, DB, Out indefinitely
Nathan Williams, DL, Questionable
Adam Homan, RB, Questionable
Michael Bennett, DL, Questionable
Storm Klein, LB, Questionable
Carlos Hyde, RB, Doubtful
Jordan Hall, RB, Doubtful
Warren Ball, RB, Out indefinitely
Ohio State comes into this matchup ranked as the 12th best college football team in the nation, and a big win over Cal would continue the team in the right direction under the new regime.
For California, the team enters the game at 1-1 on the season and needs an upset win here to have any chance of moving into contention for top-25 consideration.
While the Bears have the weapons, Cal will have to prove their consistency to beat a team as fundamentally sound as Meyer’s Buckeyes.
California Player to Watch: Zach Maynard, QB
California’s best chance to win the game comes from the shoulder of their senior quarterback Zach Maynard, but he has to make sure he keeps his play crisp on Saturday against a tough Buckeyes’ defense.
If Maynard can protect the ball and avoid turnovers, he will be able to throw the Golden Bears into contention during the game. The Cal defense will have to do the rest, but Maynard has the skill to keep his team in the matchup.
Ohio State Player to Watch: Braxton Miller, QB
Urban Meyer loves running quarterbacks, doesn’t he?
While Braxton Miller is no Tim Tebow, he has proven through the first two games that he has elite skills running the ball and is very talented throwing the rock as well.
With almost 700 yards of total offense (362 yards through the air and 302 on the ground), Miller has taken his role of dual-threat QB seriously. Add in his seven touchdowns in two games, and the focus of the Golden Bears defense becomes very obvious.
Prediction: Ohio State 31, California 21
California has given up 31 points to their opponents in each of the first two games this season and will do the same again to the Buckeyes. With Meyer’s willingness to stick to the run game and keep his offense balanced, Ohio State will not run up the score.
Ohio State will find more of their weaknesses on Saturday, as Cal’s secondary is good enough to make the young Braxton Miller pay for his mistakes. The Buckeyes will win, but this game will be a great learning experience for the team.
Check back for more on the NCAA Football as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s College Football page to get your fill of college football.