Cal-Ohio State pregame ponderables

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Hello from the Horseshoe.

It's a lovely day for football here, with fall-like temperatures in the 60s at kickoff. Doesn't get much better than this.

Unless you're the California Bears, who probably would like a little more sleep. Remember, today's kickoff is at 9 a.m. on the Bears' body clocks. But that's not their biggest concern. Jeff Tedford's program has been slipping of late and hasn't been really impressive this season, losing to Nevada at home and giving up 31 points to Southern Utah last week in a win.

Still, this should be a good test for Ohio State. Cal's defense will load the box, often with eight defenders near the line of scrimmage. The Bears will do everything they can to keep quarterback Braxton Miller, the Big Ten's leading rusher, from beating them with his feet. The Buckeyes likely will have to make some things happen in the downfield passing game, an area that's still a bit of a work in progress for them. But it's something they will need down the road, for sure.

The running game outside of Miller remains a question mark. Carlos Hyde (knee) is out. Jordan Hall (foot) is dressed and should make his season debut. Urban Meyer has said Hall's foot is healed, but he's rusty and the team doesn't want to push him too hard and risk further injury. So we likely will see Hall in a very limited basis today. Freshman Bri'onte Dunn is likely to get the start at tailback.

Meyer also wants to see more pressure from his defense today, and Cal's passing attack should give OSU opportunities. The Buckeyes don't want to get too aggressive, though, and allow big plays by star receiver Keenan Allen. He is also dangerous in the return game, as he scored on a 69-yard punt return last year.

If Ohio State is as good as its No. 12 ranking, it should take care of business today. Stay tuned for much more coverage.