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California

vs.

Ohio State

9/15/12

Ohio State hosts the California Golden Bears Saturday afternoon in a game that can be seen on ABC at 12 noon est. The Buckeyes are a hefty -17 point favorite at SBG Global however some -16.5's are starting to appear on the board. The total is 52.5.

In the Buckeyes first game, they put a beat down on Miami (OH), 56-10. Miller had three total TDs in that game, throwing for over 200 yards and running for over 150 yards. Against Central Florida last weekend, he did it again compiling four total TDs with 155 passing yards and 141 rushing yards.

How many carries can you give your quarterback though? Miller already has 44 carries this season and he's a QB! That's nine more carries than Collin Klein who is three inches taller and 20 pounds heavier. It will be a wonder if Miller will continue to run this much, especially against the defensive-minded Big Ten.

There's an added problem for this California game as well. Starting running back Carlos Hyde will be out after spraining his MCL against UCF. Hyde is the Buckeyes leading RB this year with 24 carries for 109 yards. Taking his spot will be Freshman Bri'onte Dunn and possibly Senior Jordan Hall. Hall has been out for the last 10 weeks after cutting his foot on a piece of glass in the summer so he won't exactly be game ready.

Expect another big dosage from Miller in the passing and running game. Philly Brown and Devin Smith have combined for 21 of 32 completions from Miller and will be the receivers to keep an eye on.

The problem that California has is that their defense is bad to say the least. They have given up 31 points in each of their first two games, a 31-24 loss against Nevada and a 50-31 win over Southern Utah. Yes, they gave up 31 points to Southern Utah, a team that lost to Utah State 34-3 the previous week. Handling Braxton Miller may not be possible for the Golden Bears.

Nevada rushed for 220 yards on them and Southern Utah had 292 passing yards. California is allowing opposing QBs to throw for a 64% completion rate. Miller could have a field day.

Their offense will need to keep them in the game, but it won't be easy in Columbus. The Golden Bear rushing attack may have the trick though. Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson lead the team and both have over 100 yards rushing and a yards per carry rate better than 5.2. Ohio State had trouble against a dual-RB attack from UCF last week allowing over five yards per carry to their two RBs.

If the running game makes a dent, it will only be easier for QB Zach Maynard to find his open receivers. Maynard is having a solid season so far passing for 474 yards and three TDs. He has spread the ball around enough that the Golden Bears have three WRs with at least 100 yards. Not many teams can say that this early in the season.

An interesting stat for California is that they are 5-1 ATS in their last six games against the Big Ten, however you also have to throw in Ohio State being 8-1-1 against the Pac-12 in their last 10 games. These two teams have never played each other so unfortunately you can't gain any insight from previous seasons.

It's always dangerous to lay big numbers in college football. It becomes even more so, when the underdog can muster some offense, as Jeff Tedford's Cal teams typically can. But then Urban Meyer brings a new dimension to Ohio State in terms of the Buckeyes covering pointspreads.  Whereas Jim Tressel would have Buckeye fans pulling out their hair with his conservative approach, Meyer will have the pedal to the floor for 60 minutes. So we'll lean towards the Buckeyes here at anything less than -17 and we'll also lean towards the over 52.5. This likely will not become an official play though as we tend to avoid Cal games in general. They have been one of the most unpredictable teams in college football over the years, overachieving one week, looking pathetic the next. Ohio State -16.5 and Over 52.5 Leans only.

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