California (1-1) vs. No. 12 Ohio State (2-0), 9 a.m. (ABC)
Line: Ohio State by 17.
Series Record: Ohio State leads, 5-1.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Coach Urban Meyer has blasted several areas of his team despite opening with two victories. There has been very little spark on offense except when QB Braxton Miller runs it (44 carries, 302 yards) and the defense, although picking off five passes, has given up a lot of big plays and hasn't gotten to the quarterback. Meyer is demanding improvement. The Golden Bears, on the other hand, begin an arduous two-game road trip that concludes next week at No. 2 Southern California.
Ohio State's running game against Cal's press defense in the secondary and frequent 46 alignment (similar to the '86 Chicago Bears). With starting TB Carlos Hyde out (sprained knee ligament) and Jordan Hall returning after missing the past two months (severed foot tendon), the Buckeyes have had to run Miller far more than they would like. If Hall is able to play meaningful minutes and contribute, or if unproven TBs Bri'onte Dunn or Rod Smith finally break through, it'll ease a huge burden on Miller. Cal's D has racked up 20 TFL so far, sixth in the nation.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
California: WR Keenan Allen is considered a top draft pick next spring. He and frosh WRs Chris Harper and Bryce Triggs need to have a big day on the receiving end for the Bears to move the ball. Of course, QB Zach Maynard must deliver it, handle Ohio State's increased number of blitzes and be cool for the Golden Bears to spring the upset.
Ohio State: DE John Simon, considered one of the best pass-rushers in the Big Ten, has no sacks and half of a tackle for a loss. Look for LBs Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant to blitz more to help the line get to Maynard.
FACTS & FIGURES
The teams are playing for the first time in 40 years. ... The teams meet next Sept. 14 at Cal's newly renovated Memorial Stadium. ... Coaches Meyer (106-23) and Jeff Tedford (80-49) are each in their 11th year as a head coach. Both are also good friends. ... Ohio State will honor 12 new inductees into its athletics hall of fame at halftime. The honorees include former Buckeyes players Mike Vrabel (now the DL coach) and Bob Knight, a sub on the 1960 national championship men's basketball team (which beat Cal in the title game) who went on to a stellar coaching career at Army, Indiana and Texas Tech. ... Meyer coaches the punt-block team which he has dubbed "The Freak Show." Cal has its own freak in Allen, who returned a punt 69 yards last week in a 50-31 win over Southern Utah. ... The teams have split wins in the Rose Bowl, the Bears winning 28-0 in 1921 and the Buckeyes taking a 17-14 verdict in 1950.