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Ohio St.-California Preview

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State coach Urban Meyer began his remarks after Saturday's 42-7 blowout of San Diego State by praising a scarlet-and-gray clad crowd of 104,984 at Ohio Stadium.

''It was a fantastic environment,'' he said of the game and all that surrounded it provided by the band, cheerleaders and the Buckeyes faithful.

This week, the environment won't be nearly so friendly.


Having dispatched two mediocre teams at home, No. 4 Ohio State hits the road for the first time when it travels to California for a game on Saturday night.

The Buckeyes (2-0), who dropped a spot in the latest AP Top 25, beat up on the punchless Aztecs a week after rolling over Buffalo, 40-20 - also at home.

Meyer said he's ''fairly optimistic'' that standout quarterback Braxton Miller will play Saturday despite a left knee sprain. He was injured on a tackle early last week and did not return, with backup Kenny Guiton leading the way in the win with two TD passes and a scoring run.

''With everything I've been told, the improvement made between day 3 and day 4 (after a sprained knee) is very important and it's usually substantial," Meyer said Tuesday.

Most teams have difficulty when they pack their bags for the first road game. The Buckeyes are just 9-6 in their last 15 road openers.

Meyer is 10-1 as a head coach in his team's first road game, the lone loss a 28-26 setback at Texas A&M in 2003, his first year at Utah.

Cal (1-1) will be playing its third home game so far. The Bears, in a battle of upcoming Buckeyes opponents, lost their opener to Northwestern, 44-30. This past Saturday, they knocked off Football Championship Subdivision foe Portland State, 37-30.


''They outplayed us and outcoached us and we were fortunate to win,'' said Cal's first-year coach, Sonny Dykes.

Those words don't bode well when a team with national aspirations is coming your way.

His players also were aware that they have to show a world of improvement in their next game.

''They're a great team, Portland State. They came in and surprised us,'' said quarterback Jared Goff, who completed 33 of 51 passes for 485 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. ''I'm not saying we were not ready for an FCS team, but they surprised us with their speed. We should have played a lot better than we did, and we'll need to get better next week.''

The Bears trailed 30-27 in the third quarter, then shut out Portland State the rest of the way.


''We haven't gone over Ohio State,'' Cal running back Khalfani Muhammad said. ''Starting (on Sunday) that's what we'll focus on, and that's when the adjustments will come.''

Since the loss at A&M a decade ago, Meyer's teams have won eight road openers in a row, including last year's make-or-break 17-16 win over No. 20 Michigan State. The Buckeyes had to come back in the second half of that game.

Meyer has said he has often wondered to himself where that team might have ended up if the seniors hadn't spoken up at the half and helped stoke the fires of the younger players. He doesn't think it would have been 12-0, that's for sure.

One of those wins came against visiting Cal last Sept. 15 by a 35-28 score, as Miller lofted a 72-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith with 3:26 left and the Golden Bears' last chance was snuffed out with an interception as then-No. 12 Ohio State survived. The Bears missed three field goals and had a touchdown called back by a penalty, while the Buckeyes gave up 512 yards and were manhandled for much of the second half.

Miller passed for 249 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 75 yards and a score as Ohio State improved to 6-1 in the series. The Buckeyes will be making their first visit to Memorial Stadium since Oct. 7, 1972, a 35-18 win.

 

 

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