Memories of Bigelow Haunt Buckeyes
By Rob Ogden
With all the talk of California's dynamic passing attack this year, it was the Bears' ground game that gave the Buckeyes trouble last season.
Brendon Bigelow gets past Bradley Roby in last year's Cal game. Defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs (background) is not a happy man.
Photo by Dan Harker
Cal running back Brendan Bigelow had a career day in the Horseshoe, rushing for 160 yards and two touchdowns on only four carries. Bigelow is back for an encore, but the Buckeyes are trying to make sure they keep him quiet this time around.
"He made us look silly as far as missed tackles," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "We've tackled every day since then because of our tackling on him that day."
After the game against Ohio State, Bigelow scored only one more rushing touchdown all season. The 160 yards he rushed for that afternoon more than double any other single-game output of his career.
On Bigelow's longest run of the day, three Buckeyes whiffed at him as he spun in circles and took the handoff 81 yards to the house. It was the longest run by an opponent in the 91-year history of Ohio Stadium.
"We just gotta keep him under control and just can’t let him get where he wants to go," linebacker Ryan Shazier said. "We’ve been practicing all those types of (spin) moves.”
The Bears run a completely different style of offense now under new coach Sonny Dykes than they did a year ago, so the Buckeyes haven't watched much film from last season's game.
However the coaches have showed the team a few clips from the game, including Bigelow's runs, as a reminder of what went wrong, senior safety Christian Bryant said.
“I feel like that was just some plays that we lost leverage with, something that we could’ve fixed or had adjustments throughout the game last year,” he said. “It was just some guys making small mistakes. This year, I feel like we’re well prepared.”
Bryant added that they've been specifically working on open-field tackling this week to ensure Bigelow, or anyone else, doesn't make them look silly again.
The junior is Cal's leading rusher so far this season with 136 yards on 33 carries. He's still looking for his first score of the season.
With the Buckeyes coming to town, he knows he's a marked man.
"I'm pretty sure they know who I am now," he said. "I like the challenge. It's definitely going to be a lot more difficult."
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