California (1-1) at (12) Ohio State (2-0)|
Saturday, September 15, 12:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 12th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will try to remain perfect
under the watchful eye of first-year head coach Urban Meyer, as they welcome
the California Golden Bears to Columbus this Saturday for a non-conference
Jeff Tedford's California club is 1-1 on the young season, as it dropped a
31-24 decision to Nevada in the opener before taking out Southern Utah in week
two, 50-31 -- both games taking place at the newly-renovated Memorial Stadium
in Berkeley. The recent win over the Thunderbirds, which improved the Golden
Bears to 6-0 all-time against FCS foes, was Tedford's 80th at the school.
This bout marks the first of two straight the Golden Bears will play against
ranked foes on the road, the next being their Pac-12 Conference opener at No.
2 USC on Sept. 22.
Ohio State is playing the third of four straight home games to open the 2012
campaign this week, having already disposed of Miami-Ohio (56-10) and UCF
(31-16). As a result, Meyer's record improved to 106-23 in 11 years as a head
coach, and his teams are 36-4 in the month of September.
Following this bout, Ohio State will entertain UAB before hitting the road for
the first time this season to open Big Ten Conference play at nationally-
ranked Michigan State on Sept. 29.
This game marks the first meeting between Cal and OSU since 1972, and the
Buckeyes have won the last five encounters to take a 5-1 lead in the all-time
California QB Zach Maynard currently ranks fifth in the Pac-12 with a 154.2
passer rating, and he has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 474 yards
to go along with three TDs and one INT. In the recent win over Southern Utah,
the senior signal-caller went 17-of-23 for 229 yards with a TD and an INT. He
also carried the ball six times for 39 yards, although the team's leading
rusher, senior Isi Sofele, tallied 104 yards and a TD on 19 totes. It was the
sixth career 100-yard rushing game for Sofele.
Freshman WR Chris Harper hauled in seven balls for 94 yards against the T-
Birds, giving him a team-leading 12 grabs for 151 yards and one TD this
season. Fellow wideout Keenan Allen has 11 receptions for 155 yards and a
score through the first two games, and he has caught a pass in all 26 games of
his college career, leading to nearly 2,000 receiving yards.
Maynard spoke about the challenges he and his offensive cohorts face at Ohio
State this week, "I would say that we have to play more consistently. I put
myself in a lot of long third down situations this week. We need to do a good
job on first and second down and put ourselves in better field position so
that even if we can't score a touchdown, we can get a field goal."
Defensively, Cal ranks sixth in the country with 10.0 TFL per game, and is
tied for 23rd with 3.0 sacks per outing. Linebacker Robert Mullins and DB Josh
Hill sit atop the team's tackles list with 20 through two games, while LB J.P.
Hurrell has three sacks -- all coming against Southern Utah.
Senior DB Marc Anthony picked off a pass and returned it 61 yards for a TD
against the Thunderbirds, who tallied just 79 net rushing yards despite moving
the chains on 10-of-20 third-down conversion attempts and claiming a near 12-
minute edge in time of possession.
Citing the fact the his team was penalized 12 times in the game, Tedford knows
that against more formidable opposition, that's a recipe for disaster.
"Penalties, too many penalties. We cannot continue to do that, shoot ourselves
in the foot and expect to win close football games."
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller was a one-man wrecking crew in the team's recent
win over UCF, as he ran for 141 yards and three TDs, becoming the first
Buckeyes signal-caller in more than three decades to score three rushing TDs
in a game. Additionally, he threw for 155 yards and another score to WR Jake
Stoneburner. He did throw an INT, as OSU committed three turnovers in the
game, and not only was Meyer upset about that fact, but also that the Buckeyes
were penalized 10 times for a loss of nearly 80 yards.
The OSU defense certainly did its job against UCF, coming up with three INTs
while holding the Knights to just 103 net rushing yards. CB Travis Howard
logged one of the picks, giving him three for the season and seven for his
career. Howard actually has more INTs and passes defended (five) than he does
tackles (two) at this point.
Howard was complimentary of the Knights and his teammates following the win,
"It was a great team. We felt well prepared but they came out and gave us a
battle ... We were able to go out there and still get a victory."
The Buckeyes have registered six turnovers (five INTs, one fumble) after two
games, and they are giving up just 13.0 points and 51.0 rushing ypg. LB Ryan
Shazier (14) is one of four players with double-digit tackles to this point,
but the one area that hasn't quite materialized yet is making plays in the
backfield as the defense as a whole has just five TFL and three sacks to its
UCF coach George O'Leary praised the Buckeyes defense following last week's
game, "Ohio State's front seven is outstanding. John Simon is as good as
anyone in the country. You don't want to take your time passing against them.
The quarterback can't take more than three or four step drops."
Cal can make things interesting if the defense plays up to its ability and the
offense can get into a rhythm early -- something most teams just aren't able
to do against the ultra-aggressive OSU defense. Expect Miller to have another
solid outing, as he leads the Buckeyes to their third straight win to open the
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio State 35, California 20
09/12 10:36:32 ET