No Braxton, No Problem
By Rob Ogden
BERKELEY, California — No Braxton Miller? No problem.
For the second-consecutive week, Kenny Guiton shined in Miller's absence, this time leading the Buckeyes to a 52-34 victory against California in Ohio State's first road test of the season.
Gution had a career day as he completed 21-of-32 passing attempts for 276 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added a Miller-like 97 yards on the ground.
Guiton said he wasn't surprised by his performance.
"I kept the mindset that I was going to start. When I got the nod, I was ready to go," he said. "I prepared hard. I watched so much film. I killed myself with that film."
In front of a crowd that seemed to be 50 percent Ohio State fans, the Buckeyes' opening drive set the tone for Guiton's career day.
On only the Buckeyes' second play of the game, Guiton hit Devin Smith for a 90-yard touchdown reception, the longest play from scrimmage in school history.
The safety bit on a play fake, leaving Smith one-on-one with the corner back, who he beat down the sideline.
"Devin has world-class speed," Guiton said. "I saw him beat his man and he can do the rest."
Ohio State's next drive ended the exact same way. Another two-play series ended with another Guiton-to-Smith touchdown pass, this time for 47 yards.
After the game, Smith said Guiton was putting the ball right on the money. "We worked on those plays all week and it showed," he said.
Minutes later, Cal's freshman quarterback Jared Goff was sacked by linebacker Ryan Shazier and fumbled. Defensive tackle Michael Bennett recovered the ball for the Buckeyes and Guiton and company went back to work.
Six plays later, Guiton found Chris Fields open in the end zone on fourth-and-goal, and it was 21-0 before all of the Cal fans had even found their seats.
"That was fun to watch," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said about his offense. "We couldn't have done this a year ago. We have some weapons that have been developed."
Meyer said he decided Wednesday or Thursday that Miller wouldn't be able to go, and said that it might be tough to sit Guiton down completely, even when Miller returns to full health.
"I think Kenny will get in the game a little bit (in the future)," he said. "That's something I've got to think about."
First-year Cal coach Sonny Dykes said they expected Guiton would get the start, but added that that didn't change the way they prepared for the game.
Center Corey Linsely, who said he is now 100 percent healthy after missing time previously, said that he thinks a two-quarterback system could work for the Buckeyes if the coaches wanted to try it out.
"If they're both that good, I don't see why it wouldn't work, he said."
Senior receiver Corey Brown agreed.
"There have been teams in the past with two quarterbacks," Brown said. "Coach Meyer has done it before. They can both take control of this offense and do it well."
The lone wart on Guiton's performance was a fumble midway through the first quarter, but he was bailed out by his defense on the next play when Christian Bryant intercepted a Goff pass.
Cal tried to get Bryant to bite on a flea flicker. Instead, Goff threw into double coverage for an easy catch for Bryant.
Goff eventually found a groove, and finished the game with 371 yards passing and three touchdowns on 53 attempts.
Cal pulled within 24-14, but would get no closer, as Jordan Hall added three rushing touchdowns. Hall ran for a career-high 170 yards to go along with the three scores, and he wasn't ready to quit when the final horn sounded.
"That was real fun. I wish we had another quarter," Hall said. "We were just having fun out there."
The game wasn't quite as fun for Shazier, who wasn't particularly pleased with the defense's performance.
"We feel like we should have shut them down more than that," he said.
In all, Cal totaled 503 yards of offense on 90 plays.
Meyer said missed tackles and "stupid penalties" were what plagued the defense the most.
"We knew there was gonna be a lot of yards," Meyer said. "You're crazy if you think you're going to go out there and shut them down."
Shazier left the game during the second quarter with what he called a sprained left shoulder. He returned for the next defensive series and said after the game that the shoulder was a little sore, but nothing more.
The win stretched the Buckeyes' nation-leading winning streak to 15 games.
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