California vs. Ohio State: Complete Game Preview
The No. 12 Ohio State Buckeyes play the unranked California Golden Bears this Saturday in Columbus.
Ohio State will be trying to notch the Big Ten’s first victory over a Pac-12 opponent in 2012. The conference went winless in three Big Ten/Pac-12 matchups last week, all of which were played out west.
This complete preview has everything you need to know about Ohio State’s upcoming game against California.
Game Day Information
Who: California (Cal) at Ohio State
When: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET
Where: Columbus, Ohio
Stadium: Ohio Stadium (102,329)
TV: ABC will be televising the game regionally.
Radio: Ohio: Akron - 1590 AM | Cincinnati - 1480 AM | Cleveland - 850 AM | Columbus - 1460 AM | Columbus - 97.1 FM | Toledo - 1470 AM | Youngstown - 1390 AM
California: San Francisco - 810 AM | Fresno - 1430 AM | Modesto - 970 AM | Los Angeles - 1260 AM | Sacramento - 1380 AM | San Diego - 1210 AM
Depth Chart for Ohio State
Quarterback: Braxton Miller | Kenny Guiton
Running Back: Bri'onte Dunn | Rod Smith
*Jordan Hall has been medically cleared to play, his availability on game day is TBD
Fullback: Zach Boren | Adam Homan
Wide Receiver (H): Jake Stoneburner | Chris Fields
Wide Receiver (X): Devin Smith | Michael Thomas
Wide Receiver (Z): Corey Brown | Evan Spencer
Left Tackle: Jack Mewhort | Darryl Baldwin
Left Guard: Andrew Norwell | Antonio Underwood
Center: Corey Linsley | Jacoby Boren
Right Guard: Marcus Hall | Chase Farris
Right Tackle: Reid Fragel | Taylor Decker
Tight End: Nick Vannett OR Jeff Heuerman
Defensive End (LEO): John Simon | Steve Miller OR Noah Spence
Nose Tackle: Garrett Goebel | Joel Hale
Defensive Tackle: Johnathan Hankins | Adolphus Washington OR Tommy Schutt
Defensive End: J.T. Moore | Nathan Williams
Outside Linebacker: Ryan Shazier | Conner Crowell
Middle Linebacker: Curtis Grant | Camren Williams
Outside Linebacker: Etienne Sabino | Joshua Perry
Cornerback: Bradley Roby | Doran Grant
Safety: Christian Bryant | Orhian Johnson
Safety: C.J. Barnett | Corey Brown
Cornerback: Travis Howard | Adam Grifﬁn
Kicker: Drew Basil | Kyle Clinton
Punter: Ben Buchanan | Drew Basil
Punt Returner: Corey Brown | Devin Smith
Kick Returner: Corey Brown | Bri’onte Dunn
Depth Chart for California
Quarterback: Zach Maynard | Allan Bridgford
Running Back: Isi Sofele OR C.J. Anderson
Fullback: Eric Stevens | Dasarte Yarnway
Wide Receiver: Keenan Allen | Chris Harper
Wide Receiver: Bryce Treggs | Darius Powe
Left Tackle: Tyler Rigsbee | Freddie Tagaloa
Left Guard: Jordan Rigsbee | Alejandro Crosthwaite
Center: Brian Schwenke | Chris Adcock
Right Guard: Chris Adcock | Matt Williams
Right Tackle: Bill Tyndall | Geoffrey Gibson
Tight End: Richard Rodgers | Spencer Hagan
Defensive End: Aaron Tipoti | Todd Barr
Nose Tackle: Kendrick Payne | Viliami Moala
Defensive End: Deandre Coleman | Keni Kaufusi
Outside Linebacker: Chris McCain | Dan Camporeale
Inside Linebacker: Robert Mullins | Nick Forbes
Inside Linebacker: J.P. Hurrell | Jalen Jefferson
Outside Linebacker: Brennan Scarlett | Nathan Broussard
Cornerback: Marc Anthony | Adrian Lee
Safety: Josh Hill | Michael Lowe
Safety: Alex Logan | Tyré Ellison
Cornerback: Steve Williams | Kameron Jackson
Kicker: Vincenzo D’Amato
Punter: Cole Leininger | Steffan Mos
Punt Returner: Keenan Allen | Bryce Treggs
Kick Returner: Brendan Bigelow | Mike Manuel
What Happened to the Buckeyes Last Week?
Ohio State beat the UCF Knights 31-16 in Columbus last Saturday. The Knights gave the Buckeyes a fight, especially in the first half, before Ohio State pulled away in the third quarter.
Braxton Miller had another huge game, throwing for 155 yards with one touchdown and one interception while adding another 141 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Every yard of offense was needed, especially after starting running back Carlos Hyde went down with a sprained MCL.
Ohio State's defense used two second-half interceptions to stifle any chances of a UCF comeback before coasting to the 15-point victory.
What Happened to the Golden Bears Last Week?
A week after losing their season opener to Nevada, Cal entered the fourth quarter of their game against FCS opponent Southern Utah leading just 20-17.
Fortunately for the Golden Bears, they turned things around.
Fueled by mistakes made by Southern Utah down the stretch, Cal scored 30 points in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 50-31 victory.
Cal quarterback Zach Maynard threw for 229 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and starting tailback Isi Sofele rushed for 104 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries.
If Cal had lost, it would have been the first time the Golden Bears opened a season with two consecutive losses since Jeff Tedford was brought on as head coach in 2001.
What It Means to Both Teams
For Ohio State:
With no bowl to play for this year, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes have taken a one-game-at-a-time approach to the football season. Ohio State has built momentum with their first two victories, but losing to Cal would be a punch in the gut to the players who have goals of finishing the season unbeaten.
So far this season the Buckeyes have looked like one of the best teams in the Big Ten. Beating Cal would only further that impression, and in turn would help Ohio State enter conference play two weeks from now with a ton of confidence.
A victory over Ohio State wouldn't just give Cal momentum after a rough start to their season, it would be a huge boost to a program that has struggled in recent years.
In 2007, Cal had climbed to No. 2 in the rankings and were considered a national title contender before unranked Oregon State derailed their season with a 31-28 upset of the Golden Bears. Cal finished that season losing five of its remaining seven games, and the program hasn't been a championship contender since.
Beating Ohio State would give Cal its first victory over a ranked opponent since the 2009 football season. A victory would be a huge momentum builder as they start conference play next week against the No. 2 ranked USC Trojans.
Key Player for Ohio State
Braxton Miller, QB
Like last week and the week before, the Buckeyes will go as far as Braxton Miller can take them.
With Carlos Hyde sidelined this week with a sprained MCL and Jordan Hall's availability to be determined, some might think that freshman Bri'onte Dunn is Ohio State's key player. That would likely be the case against any other opponent on the schedule, but with Cal's unique defensive scheme, the Golden Bears will likely load the box to try and stop Ohio State's rushing attack.
That means Miller will have to throw the ball over the top, specifically in play-action situations, to try and catch Cal's defense out of position.
Key Player for California
Keenan Allen, WR
If there's one thing Ohio State has struggled with so far this season, it's defending the pass. The Buckeyes gave up over 300 passing yards to Miami (OH) and over 250 yards through the air to a UCF team that wants to run the ball more often than they throw.
So far the Buckeyes haven't seen a wide receiver as talented as Keenan Allen, and they probably won't face one this good the rest of the year. Allen is a first-round type of talent.
The Buckeyes have had a bit of trouble adjusting to the new coverage scheme cornerbacks coach Kerry Combs brought to Ohio State, leaving gaping holes in the secondary for opposing receivers to exploit. If those holes don't close up against Cal, Allen is certainly talented enough to exploit them.
Ohio State Will Win If...
The Buckeyes will win if Braxton Miller can keep Cal's defense honest with accurate passes down the field.
Against UCF last week, Braxton completed zero passes of 20 yards or more as his longest completion went for just 15 yards. That won't get it done against a Cal team that's expected to load the box to prevent Braxton and the Buckeyes from running the ball effectively.
The defense will have to generate more pressure on the quarterback, something they've struggled to do in their first two games. Doing so will prevent Cal quarterback Zach Maynard from having the time to find his talented receivers down the field against a secondary that has struggled through two games.
California Will Win If...
The Golden Bears would have to play a perfect game to pull off an upset over Ohio State.
On offense, Zach Maynard will need to find Keenan Allen for a handful of big plays against the Buckeyes. If they can get the passing game going, Jeff Tedford would have to hope Ohio State's coaching staff would drop eight in coverage so draw plays to his tailbacks could keep Braxton Miller off the field for as long as possible.
On defense, the Golden Bears will have to fluster Braxton Miller for the first time this season. If they can take away his running lanes, Cal could pressure Braxton Miller into some bad throws to force a few Ohio State turnovers.
Braxton Miller will have another huge day for the Buckeyes, throwing for two touchdowns and running for two more in a 38-17 victory.