Buckeyes Score 18 Points Over Cal; And Still I Find Myself Wanting

Cal Stripe Memorial Fail

Did somebody miss a memo?

Somebody really needs to have a talk with the Cal Athletic department. Blame it on an overly enthusiastic student intern, maybe a school pep club that really doesn’t know better, whoever. I’m sure that when the idea for a Penn State style “white out” in which fans create blue and gold stripes around the stadium seemed like a great idea. At some point though, you would think that an administrator or someone would step up and say, “Uhm…you want to do this against who?”

Any other game it may have worked. UCLA, Washington, sure. Let’s give it a shot. Cal however, attempted to pull of a massive act of fan participation and against the Ohio State Buckeyes it was a complete and utter fail. You’ve got to credit the innocence of Cal though. Little did they realize that as the largest university in the United States, Ohio State fans are everywhere. How could they have known that every Ohio State Alumni and OSU fan west of the Mississippi had set this date in their calendar’s years ago. Add in a chance to visit the beach and forget it. By the time the Ohio State vs. Cal game got underway, Memorial Stadium looked much more like The Shoe, West Coast version.

18 Points – And Yet I Find Myself Wanting
Ohio State’s jump to a 21 point lead should have been enough to make any Buckeye fan happy but like the Tressel Ball we suffered through before, we are quickly finding that Urban Ball can be just as frustrating. Yes, both coaches produced winners but there is this ongoing sense that the game isn’t safe until the clock runs down.

What started out as a first quarter blow out Saturday quickly turned into a college football “shoot out” and there is nothing I hate more than a “shoot out.” The Buckeyes gave up 503 yards allowing 371 yards passing. Sure, for the first time this season they held Cal quarterback Gared Joff to less than 400 yards but is that the kind of football we want?

Unfortunately, that’s where college football is today. We live in a world where AP voters will have no qualms about handing their No. 1 vote to a school that just gave up a total 628 yards. Of the top ten schools that played this weekend, only Louisville and Stanford scored less than 40 points. Top ten opponents scored an avg. 24 points this weekend (sorry if my math is wrong) with Nevada’s only touchdown pulling down the average.

The point is (as if I haven’t made it already) I want a little defense. Yes, I was jumping up and down when Kenny Guiton connected on a 90 yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith on the second play of the game. By the end of the game however, the novelty was starting to wear off.

But…Defense is Getting Better
Regardless how I feel about the state of college football, this is where we are and Cal is proving that they fit the mold. I think it’s safe to say that quarterback Jared Goff is the real deal. Expect him to give the Pac 12 fits all year. Yeah, he put up some big yards against the Buckeyes but that’s partially because the Buckeyes completely shut down the Cal running game. I’m sorry but Ryan Shazier is a monster. He made 12 tackles Saturday and 10 of those he did on his own. Remember how the tackling problems we saw last year, at least Shazier is getting it worked out.

The only way the Buckeyes will meet another pass offense that compares to what we saw with Cal is if they face Texas A&M in a bowl game and I don’t see much chance of that happening. Yes, it was frustrating to see Cal putting together the drives but I expect to see this defense continue to get better as we move into conference play.

Quarterback Controversy?
How many teams would be glad to have a starting quarterback who can put on the performance that Kenny Guiton did this weekend? Even if Braxton Miller was healthy enough to play, playing Guiton was a good move. It was no secret that the Cal defense was a serious weak point and you know Guiton had proven himself both on the field last year and in practice. I wonder if things had gone bad, would we have seen Miller dressed for the second half of the game.

So far this year, Miller has looked extremely fragile. In his start against Cal, Guiton got the chance to play a full game with all the pressures that come with a prime time, away game. You just can’t simulate that experience. Last year, a season ending injury to Miller would have seemed devastating. We now know that even if something does happen to Miller, the Buckeyes are still in the BCS chase with Guiton. The best part is that Guiton knows it also.

Smith and Hyde
Devin Smith is showing some seriously dangerous speed. He is going to be pulling safeties downfield all season opening up the run game. We saw a lot of that this weekend as Jordan Hall and others made good use of the corners but there was very little ground power up the middle. That changes next week with the return of Carlos Hyde.

Hyde’s ability to just pound the ball up the middle pretty is the last pice of Ohio State’s offensive puzzle. With him we’ve got speed on the corner run, speed in the receivers, not one but two quarterbacks who can connect on the long ball and a workhorse to run the ball straight up field when needed. Am I missing anything?

I can’t think of another offense in college football right now that can bring such a comprehensive package to the field. The chase for national championship number eight is officially on Buckeye fans. Let’s make it a good one.