The Cal Bears (1 – 2) fell easily to the #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (3 – 0), as the defense let down the Bears with their third straight poor performance.
The Bears suffered a 52 – 34 defeat for their second loss to a Big 10 Conference opponent this season. The Bears were unable to slow down the trio of Kenny Guiton, Jordan Hall, and Devin Smith, as the Buckeyes rolled up 608 yards of total offense.
The Bears were led offensively again by quarterback Jared Goff. Goff threw for his third straight game with over 300 passing yards. He became the first Cal quarterback with three straight 300+ passing yard games since Aaron Rodgers. The pressure of moving the offense was placed firmly on his shoulders, as the running game failed to gain any traction for the third straight game with only 132 rushing yards. Daniel Lasco gained most of those yards in the fourth quarter with 10 carries for 64 yards.
The Bears could not have gotten to a wost start at home against the nationally ranked Buckeyes. The Bears opened the game with a three out and punt combined with an illegal block penalty moved the Buckeyes back to their own six yard line.
The secondary was key to the game and they let the Bears down early. On Ohio State’s second play on offensive Guiton found a streaking Devin Smith down the sideline for the 90 yard score. The Buckeyes 32 seconds on 2 plays to grab the 7 – 0 lead.
The Bears then followed up with another unproductive drive. It looked promising as Goff found Bryce Treggs for a quick 12 yards and a first down. Goff then found Chris Harper for a nine yard gain to set up second and short, but Treggs would drop a quick hitch route. Goff would then save the team from a turnover by corralling a high snap, but would lose seven yards and force another punt.
Ohio State would strike quickly to stretch out their lead to two scores. Freshman playmaker Dontre Wilson would bust for a 26 yard gain on first down to move the Buckeyes into the Bears’ territory. Guiton would find Smith on the very next play on a 47 yard touchdown strike for their second straight touchdown connection.
The Bears again were unable to get anything moving on offense. The drive would end with fumble forced by linebacker Ryan Shazier on a sack of Goff. The fumble would set the Buckeyes up in prime position just outside the red zone.
The Buckeyes went back to ground to get the ball down to the Cal one yard line. On the fourth and goal the Buckeyes would attempt their second pass of the drive and Guiton would find Chris Fields on the play action roll out for his third touchdown pass of the game. The Buckeyes would grab a 21 – 0 lead just six minutes into the game.
The Bears gained a little momentum back. Goff would need just four plays to find the end zone and get the Bears on the scoreboard. Goff would find James Grisom on a blown coverage for the 62 yard touchdown pass. The quick strike took 59 seconds for the Bears to pull within 21 – 7.
The Buckeyes looked like they were well on their way to another scoring scoring drive, when the momentum would jump in Cal’s favor. Inside Cal territory, Guiton would fumble ball on a bad mesh of the read option and Cal would recover at their own 33 yard line with a chance to pull within a score.
The Bears sensing a change in the momentum went for the jugular on their first play. The Bears would go for a flea flicker to try and go for the home run, but Goff would make an ill-advised throw to the waiting safety for the Bears’ second turnover of the quarter.
Guiton and running back Jordan Hall would lead the Buckeyes on a great drive to try and regain momentum. The big play came on the second play of the drive, as Hall broke off a 36 yard to move the Buckeyes to the Bears’ side of the 50. The Bears defense would stiffen and hold the Buckeyes. Drew Basil would knock through the 39 yard field goal to give the Buckeyes a 24 – 7 lead.
Cal would respond strongly with a solid drive to answer back. They would methodically move the ball into the Ohio State territory. The drive would appear to stall following a sack on second down to set up a third and long near midfield. The Bears would throw a screen pass to Harper and he would do the rest to convert on the 42 yard score to get the Bears to within 10 near the end of the first quarter.
Both teams would trade punts to open the second quarter. While the Buckeyes would answer with a great drive to increase their lead. Led by their running game, the Buckeyes would cap off their 12 play, 60 yard drive with a one yard touchdown run by Hall to push the score to 31 – 14.
Cal would respond with an impressive drive of their own. They were helped out by a dropped interception and two penalties, which help to extend the drive both times. They would get a first and 10 at the Buckeyes’ 13 yard line, but would be unable to punch it into the endzone. Vincenzo D’Amato would put the 27 yard field goal right through the uprights to make it 31 – 17.
Goff and the offense would get one more short before the end of the half to pull this to a one score game. This drive would move down the field on the shoulders of three big passes from Goff. The first was an 18 yard strike to Harper, while the second was 14 yard pass to Kenny Lawler. The Bears would pick up a key fourth down conversion when they would keep in Goff, shares a number with the punter, with the punt team and would pick up an 11 yard gain to Stefan McClure to keep the drive alive. Ultimately, the drive would stall out and the Bears would settle for a D’Amato 43 yard field goal to make it 31 – 20 at half time.
Ohio State receive the kick off to start the second half and they would march down the field on the back of their running game. Hall got things started with with a 16 yard rush to open the drive. Chris McCain would pick up an off side penalty to keep the Buckeyes’ drive alive. Facing a key fourth and one, the Buckeyes would convert on a 33 yard by Guiton down to the Cal five yard line. Hall would take two rushes to break the goalline. Hall’s second touchdown would give the Buckeyes a 38 – 20 lead.
Following a quick three and out by the Bear, the Buckeyes went on a monster, clock chewing drive. They took six minutes and 13 seconds to march 80 yards on 15 plays to extend their like to 25 points. Guiton, Hall, and Wilson kept the stick moving on the ground, as they picked up a majority of the yards. Guiton would cap the drive off with his fourth touchdown pass of the day to Corey Brown to put the Buckeyes up 45 – 20.
The Bears would get a great return from Khalfani Muhammad to set themselves up at their own 47 yard line. Goff would find Harper on back to back gains of 29 and 10 yards to move the Bears into the red zone. Goff would find Bryce Treggs in the corner of the endzone for his third touchdown pass of the game to bring the Bears to within 18.
The Bears would attempt a surprise onside kick, but would be offside setting the Buckeyes up at Cal’s 41 yard line. They would lean on the legs of Hall, who would put the Buckeyes up 52 – 27 with his third touchdown run of the game.
Cal would mount an impressive drive to try and mount a late charge. The running would find some success on the legs of Daniel Lasco, who would rush for 47 yards on six carries on the drive. A big play was a near interception that would bounce into the hands of Jackson Bouza for a 28 yard gain to move into Ohio State territory. Cal would get the Bears with first and 10 on the Ohio State 14, but would fail to score and would turnover on downs following an incomplete pass to the back of the endzone.
The Bears would mount one last scoring drive on the legs of reserve running back Lasco. Lasco would add 17 more yards to his total and would pound in his first touchdown from a yard out to make the score 52 – 34.
The Bears were let down by their defense plain and simple. Ohio State found success on the ground and through the air with ease in both facets. They passed for 276 yards and ran for 332 yards. The Buckeyes were led masterfully by Kenny Guiton, who threw for four touchdowns and amassed 368 total yards. The Bears also only managed to collect one turnover, which came on a bad handoff by Guiton. Cal needs to solidify itself defensive, as it open the conference slate in two weeks against the high powered Oregon Ducks.
Player of the Game:
Kenny Guiton, Ohio State
21 – 32, 276 yards, and 4 Tds
14 Carries, 92 yards