The Horseshoe is a difficult venue for any team to play in, even a team that didn't have a true home game last season, like Cal. And the Golden Bears learned that lesson as well as anyone as they dropped a close game to Ohio State 35-28 in Columbus.
The win moved No. 12 Ohio State to 3-0, with all three wins having come at home. And with one more nonconference game (also at home) before the Buckeyes start Big Ten play, they are setting themselves up to have quite the home win streak going.
It was over when: Cal quarterback Zach Maynard threw an interception with a minute remaining in the game. The senior threw his only interception of the game on a first-and-10 even though his target downfield was faced with triple coverage. With the overthrow, Ohio State returned the ball, then took a knee for the win on its ensuing possession.
Game ball goes to: Christian Bryant. The junior defensive back returned Maynard's interception for 38 yards and extinguished any kind of comeback Cal was plotting.
Stat of the game: Ohio State recorded six sacks by six different players.
The defense wasn't suffocating by any means. It allowed 520 yards of Cal offense and was a big part of Ohio State's 11 penalties. But Buckeyes kept Maynard aware and rushed the QB well. Because of the blitzes and sacks, Maynard finished the day with minus-46 rushing yards.
What we learned about Ohio State: The Buckeyes can beat good teams even when quarterback Braxton Miller is hot and cold.
We seemed to see the best and worst out of the sophomore signal-caller against Cal. On one possession in the fourth quarter, he led Ohio State down the field, rushing for 17 yards and completing four of his five passes for 43 yards. The drive ended in a touchdown, and Miller accounted for the two-point conversion. On the ensuing possession, he threw an interception. He finished the day with a completion rate a little better than 50 percent, but the Buckeyes got the win and they'll move on to the next one.
What we learned about Cal: The Bears can stay with top teams in the country when they have a balanced attack on offense. Against the Buckeyes, they put 224 yards on the ground and 288 in the air. Because of that, Ohio State had to play them honestly, and Cal kept it close until the end (though, normally, playing catch up). In an earlier loss to Nevada, Cal rushed for a little more than 100 yards and relied too much on the air attack. The Bears are best when they’re multidimensional. That's the team we saw against Ohio State.