Ohio State Football: Cal QB Jared Goff Will Challenge Young OSU Defense

David RegimbalFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2013

Aug 31, 2013; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff (16) throws the pass against the Northwestern Wildcats during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cal quarterback Jared Goff may be a freshman, but he's not playing like one.

Through two weeks of action, the first-year signal-caller out of Greenbrae, Calif., leads the NCAA in passing yards by a wide marginGoff is orchestrating an offense that runs more plays per game (97) than any other team in the country and Cal currently ranks No. 9 with 582.5 yards of offense per game.

This Saturday, Goff and the Golden Bears offense will test Ohio State's young defense.

The Buckeyes will make the cross-country trip to Berkeley, Calif., with a defense that replaced seven starters from last year's undefeated team.

The Buckeyes do, however, return two starting safeties in C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant in addition to one of the country's best cornerbacks in Bradley Roby.

That experience in the secondary will be huge for a young and talented front seven.

The Buckeyes registered three sacks and two quarterback hurries against San Diego State last Saturday. According to Rusty Miller of the Associated Press, Ohio State's defense is up to the challenge of playing the country's top passer.

"A true freshman can be really athletic and all that," defensive tackle Michael Bennett said. "But it's easier to get flustered and to get a little nervous — especially when you see a defensive line closing in."

Defensive back Armani Reeves expanded on Bennett's comments.

"Just get him second-guessing and when you do things like that, especially when it's a freshman or a new starter, it's going to cause him some problems, no matter what," Reeves said.

Although Goff has shown incredible maturity running Sonny Dykes' uptempo, pass-heavy offense, he threw three interceptions in Cal's season-opening loss to Northwestern. Two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns in the second half, proving to be the difference in a 14-point loss.

"We definitely played well for most of the game, the ending there was a little disappointing," Goff told Josh Dubow of the AP (h/t timesunion.com). "We have a lot to build on now with how well we played."

Goff and the offense did build on that performance, as the former 4-star prospect completed 33 of 51 passes for 485 yards and two touchdowns to no interceptions in a 37-30 victory over Portland State last Saturday.

There's a big difference between Portland State and Ohio State's defense, though.

On the flip side, there's a big difference between the quarterbacks Ohio State has played and the one it'll see this Saturday.

Both sides will be facing their toughest tests of the young season.


Recruit rankings courtesy of 247Sports.com.

David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. 
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.