The Buckeyes make the Left Coast trip to visit the California Golden Bears this Saturday. The Buckeyes moved to 2-0 after their handling of the San Diego State Aztecs 42-7. Once again, it was a tale of two halves.
In the 1st half, the Buckeyes ran 37 plays for 284 yards (7.7 YPP), scoring on 5 of 7 possessions for 35 points.
In the 2nd half, they ran 33 plays for 116 yards and one (1) touchdown. Oh, and this firefight was smoothly led by backup QB Kenny Guiton after Braxton Miller went down with a knee injury on OSU’s first series. Coach Meyer expects Braxton to be healthy come game time Saturday.
Meanwhile out West, the Golden Bears of California handled FCS opponent Portland State 37-30 to move to 1-1 on the season. Backing up a week, the Golden Bears opened their current home stand with a 44-30 loss to B1G powerhouse #22 Northwestern. Go B1G!
In its first year under Sonny Dykes, California is running a frenetic paced offense, averaging 97 plays and 582 yards per game this season. Last week, against Portland State, Cal ran 95 plays for 616 yards. That is a lot of both. California currently leads the nation with 470 passing yards per game. Freshman Jared Goff and his receivers are simply wearing out secondaries this year.
Although Cal is making a name for itself on offense, for example, scoring on 7 of 16 drives against Portland State, their defense forced PSU to punt in their last 6 possessions to seal the win. So they can play some defense.
Ohio State on Offense
This will be a good game to continue to work out some of the kinks, or at least maintain a game-long focus. I think that either QB, or both, that is on the field needs to stay within the game plan. The more efficient offensively that OSU can be, the better the results.
The Buckeyes have been running 5 different ball carriers, not counting Miller/Guiton, and have been averaging 6 yards per carry. That is close to what Cal has given up in yards per carry this season. With the diversity of talent in OSU’s backfield, they can attack fairly effectively at any point along the offensive line.
Based on the 1st two games against lower quality opponents, the Cal defense has not shown the capability to play well. Against Northwestern and Portland State, Cal has gave up an average of 37 points, 530 yards per game and 7.7 yards per play.
Not helping matters for Cal is the likelihood that several key defenders will miss this game due to injury.
If the Buckeyes play within themselves, the yards and points will be there for them on Saturday.
Ohio State on Defense
Initially, I was a bit concerned about California and Sonny Dykes’ Flying Circus. After digging though the data, peeling the onion, and any other metaphor that you want to use — I still aM — but less so.
Let me explain…
California doesn’t have much of a running game. Through two games, they have 79 carries for 224 yards, averaging 2.84 yards per carry. They have averaged 40 carries per game, but don’t seem to be getting much out of it. Comparably, on nearly the same number of carries (85), OSU has 524 yards on 6.2 yards per carry. I think that basically, California’s running game is a distraction.
Which brings us to their passing game. Freshman Jared Goff is a very, very talented player. He is leading the nation in passing at 465 yards per game, based on 36 completions of 57 attempts per game. Goff has completed passes to 13 receivers, with Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper being his favorite targets. Those two have caught half of Cal’s receptions and accumulated half their receiving yardage.
It’s pretty obvious who needs to be watched closely.
After doing a bit of research (seriously, I did) a couple items stuck out at me. These following numbers may or may not mean anything, but I found them interesting. For example, California has to cover 17 yards per point scored while Ohio State has to cover 11 yards per point scored. Ohio State is that much more efficient offensively, which is what you’d expect when one team is piloted by a freshman while the other by a Heisman candidate and an extremely capable co-pilot. For context, the best offenses in the nation (Baylor, Oregon, Texas A&M, Indiana, Marshall) are slightly over 10 yards per point.
On to the quarterback ratings:
|Own QB||Opp QB|
What does this tell us? First, as capable as Cal’s quarterbacking is (140), it’s not better than its opponents (142). Second, the Braxton/Guiton duo is running at 154, while OSU’s defense is holding its opponents to a rating of 106. Will Jeff Goff perform at a 106? Not likely, he and the offense are too good. But I doubt that he will be at 140 either.
My final comparison is on what I call ‘offensive consistency’. It’s a comparison of the teams’ national rankings in points per game (PPG) and yards per game (YPG). My thinking is that to be consistent, a team should be ranked relatively close in both categories. For example, if a team is ranked quite a bit higher in YPG than it is in PPG, it would indicate a lot of yardage “between the 20’s” with little to show for their efforts on the scoreboard.
|YPG Rank||PPG Rank|
So, it seems that Cal is very highly ranked in YPG (which we knew) and middle of the pack in PPG. This indicates not so much an Air Raid as an air-raid drill. This is what I’d expect of a team with a rookie quarterback. I expect those California numbers to substantially improve over the next 2-3 years. But fortunately, we’re just concerned with this coming Saturday. Meanwhile, OSU’s numbers, while not earthshaking by any means, are relatively close in rank and would be what I’d expect of an offense led by two experienced quarterbacks.
So, how’s it going to shake out? Right now the line is OSU -14 and that might be valid, if not a little light, in my opinion. This is a match-up of two dangerous offenses, but Ohio State’s defense will carry the day. Both offenses are capable of putting up significant points, but Ohio State’s scoring will be easier to come by than California’s.
The game is scheduled for a 7:00 PM EST kickoff. Television coverage is through Fox. Please join us at tBBC for live in-game chat approximately 30 minutes before kickoff. We have a new chat platform this year, and I think that it works very well. And of course, the comments are as insightful and witty as ever.
We look forward to seeing you.