Cal can't keep up with No. 4 Ohio State

BERKELEY — No Braxton Miller, no problem for Ohio State.

The Heisman Trophy hopeful missed Saturday's game between Cal and the No. 4 Buckeyes, but it didn't stop the Ohio State offense from racking up 608 yards in a 52-34 win at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

“They're a great team. They're really all they're talked up to be,” Cal quarterback Jared Goff said.

Despite Miller's absence at quarterback due to a knee injury, the Buckeyes (3-0) managed to jump out to 21-0 lead in the first six minutes of the game.

Backup quarterback Kenny Guiton hooked up with wide receiver Devin Smith for a 90-yard score — the longest play from scrimmage in the history of Ohio State football — on the second play of the game and they reconnected two offensive plays later for a 47-yard strike.

“Those big plays — we just weren't settled down,” Cal cornerback Stefan McClure said. “We didn't trust our eyes and we weren't reading the right things.”

The Buckeyes began their third possession from Cal's 23-yard line after recovering a Goff fumble and they stuffed the ball in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, capping off a six-play drive.

“We have just started so poorly now for three weeks,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “I don't really have an answer at this point — it's something we're going to need to figure out, obviously, and get fixed.”

Despite the slow start, the Bears (1-2) fought back and chiseled the lead down by halftime.

First, Goff connected with James Grisom for a 61-yard strike and then Chris Harper scampered 62 yards for a touchdown on a third-down bubble screen, cutting the lead to 24-14 before the end of the first quarter.

“We're down 21-0 and our guys battled,” Dykes said. “I think that's going to be a trademark of our program and our football team.”

The Bears went into halftime trailing 31-20 after kicker Vincenzo D'Amato nailed a 43-yard field goal as the second quarter expired. The Bears put D'Amato within range by executing a fake punt.

Goff, who wears the same No.16 jersey as punter Cole Leininger, lined up to punt on fourth-and-7 from the Buckeyes' 38-yard line and found McClure for an 11-yard gain.

“I was expecting him to call it at some point in the game — they told me to be ready for it,” Goff said. “We practiced it twice this week and it just worked out.”

But the Bears stumbled out of the gates in the second half, too.

The Buckeyes stretched the lead to 38-20 with a nine-play, 75-yard drive and after the Bears went three and out, they put together a 15-play touchdown drive that consumed 6:22 of the clock.

“We kind of came out — I wouldn't say not ready — but just not competing as hard as we should and not doing everything we need to from the get-go,” Goff said, referring to the way the Bears started both halves against the Buckeyes.

After starting his college career with back-to-back 400-yard games, Goff finished 31-of-53 for 371 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday. He found Bryce Treggs in the back of the end zone on a fade route for the Bears' final touchdown with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter.

The Buckeyes amassed 332 yards on the ground and Guiton completed 21-of-32 passes for 276 yards and four touchdowns. He also picked up 97 yards on the ground on 14 rushing attempts.

The Bears' defense continues to be ravaged by injuries, missing defensive end Brennan Scarlett (hand), linebacker Nick Forbes (back), defensive tackle Mustafa Jailil (knee) and safety Avery Sebastian. Safety Alex Logan left the game with an injury and true freshman cornerback, Cameron Walker, stepped into a new position to replace him.

“We were kind of grabbing guys, like, hey, number so-and-so go in there,” Dykes said. “It's just who we've got.”

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