Sept. 15, 2012
Columbus, Ohio - No. 12 ranked Ohio State got all it could handle from California Saturday afternoon, hanging on for a 35-28 non-conference victory in front of 105,232 fans at Ohio Stadium.
California had 512 yards of offense compared to 412 for Ohio State, outgaining the Buckeyes both on the ground and through the air, but three missed field goals and some big plays by sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller and his receiving group doomed the Golden Bears in the end.
Miller accounted for all five scores on the day for Ohio State, including a personal-best four passing touchdowns. The game featured numerous big plays from both teams, with each squad having two touchdowns over 50 yards. Not one of the nine scoring drives took more than four minutes off the clock.
Following a turnover on downs forced by the Ohio State defense, Miller broke off a 55-yard touchdown run to put the Buckeyes out front with 5:11 to play in the first quarter. A failed point after attempt kept the score at 6-0.
California did not take long to respond as it marched 75 yards in just 2:38 on its next possession to jump ahead 7-6. Chris Harper hauled in a screen pass from quarterback Zach Maynard and took it 19 yards for the score.
Sophomore wide receiver Devin Smith beat his defender to bring in a 25-yard strike from Miller to put the Buckeyes back in the lead. Drew Basil's point after made the score 13-7 with 1:11 to play in the first quarter. Miller hit senior Jake Stoneburner on a 40-yard pass down the middle of the field to set up the score on the next play.
The next drive by Ohio State put the Buckeyes up 20-7. This time they were set up by a 35-yard Smith reception and finished off by a Stoneburner touchdown, a 1-yard connection from Miller.
Brendan Bigelow dashed 81 yards for California to cut the Buckeye lead to six with 9:34 to play in the third quarter. The run was the third longest by an OSU opponent and the longest against the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium history.
Maynard punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Golden Bears out front 21-20 with 12:26 remaining in quarter number four.
Ohio State answered with an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped off by a 3-yard pass from Miller to Stoneburner. The second touchdown of the game for Stoneburner was the 12th of his career. Miller rushed in for a successful two-point conversion attempt and the Buckeyes held a 28-21 advantage.
Cal answered quickly with a 59-yard touchdown run from Bigelow to even things up with 8:10 to play in regulation.
Following the third missed field goal of the afternoon for California, Miller hooked up on a 72 yard score with Smith to put the Buckeyes back on top for good, 35-28, with 3:26 left on the clock. For Smith it was his second touchdown of the game and seventh of his career.
Junior Christian Bryant sealed the win for the Buckeyes with his first career interception.
Miller finished with 249 yards through the air and 75 rushing on 12 carries. Leading the way on the ground for the Buckeyes was senior Jordan Hall who had 87 yards on 17 rush attempts. Devin Smith ended up with five receptions for 145 yards.
Sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier led the way defensively for Ohio State. Shazier had 13 tackles (with one sack), including 10 solos, on the day. The Buckeyes had six sacks total vs. the Golden Bears. Juniors C.J. Barnett and Johnathan Hankins each had 10 tackles for the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes improve to 3-0 on the season and finish off their non-conference schedule with a matchup vs. UAB at noon Saturday in Columbus.