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5 things to watch for: Ohio State against California

Freshman running back Ezekiel Elliott gets tripped up during a game against San Diego State Sept. 7, at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 42-7.

Freshman running back Ezekiel Elliott gets tripped up during a game against San Diego State Sept. 7, at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 42-7.
Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

1. If he is able to play, how effective will Braxton Miller be?

It’s no secret Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is going to play Miller no matter how well redshirt-senior quarterback Kenny Guiton performs in his absence. Meyer said the starting quarterback will play if “he’s healthy to play and play like Braxton plays,” but how much will he be able to do? Spraining your MCL is not the worst knee injury one can have, but with the amount of time Miller spends out of the pocket as a runner, keeping an eye on him will be vital. His presence in Big Ten play will be more important than during an early season nonconference game.


2. Will freshmen Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott continue to have an impact?

Although they are behind redshirt-senior Jordan Hall and redshirt-junior Rod Smith in the running back rotation, the two speedy freshman running backs impressed during the first two games of the season. Wilson picked up 57 total yards against San Diego State, and is fourth on the team in total rushing. Just behind him is Elliott, who had 38 yards on the ground against the Aztecs. The pair has also been used as H-backs in Meyer’s system, and have shown off flashes of the speed that has the Buckeye faithful excited. If they can continue to impress when they are on the field, do not be surprised if their roles grow as the season progresses.


3. Will Joey Bosa play a bigger role with Adolphus Washington injured?

Although Miller took most of the headlines with his injury, sophomore defensive end Adolphus Washington was also taken out of the game against SDSU with an groin injury and did not return. In his place, freshman defensive lineman Joey Bosa stepped up. He recorded two solo tackles during the game and created havoc at the line of scrimmage. With Washington still listed as day-to-day leading into the game against California, Bosa will be looked at as the player who will need to pick up the slack. Even if Washington does start, the end could be utilized sparingly by defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and company, so Bosa will have the opportunity to leave his mark.


4. How will the Buckeyes handle their first road game?

It’s one thing to face the pressure of a team gunning for you when you are in the friendly confines of Ohio Stadium. It’s entirely different when the stadium is filled with a hostile crowd screaming at you and doing what they can to help their team to victory. After back-to-back home wins to start the season, OSU travels to Berkeley, Calif., to take on the Golden Bears. It is the first serious test for the Buckeyes, who faced off against two non-Bowl Championship Series opponents in their first two games and will face off against a Pac-12 opponent Saturday, and it will be even tougher being on the road for the first time this season.


5. Can California’s freshman quarterback play well enough to upset the Buckeyes?

Taking down a top-five ranked team is nothing short of easy, and if the Golden Bears want to have success Saturday night, they will need true freshman quarterback Jared Goff to play well. Goff currently leads the nation in total passing yards with 930, but has not seen a team with the caliber of athletes like the ones at OSU. Look for the Buckeyes to put plenty of pressure on Goff and rely on their veteran defensive backfield of redshirt-junior Bradley Roby and company to make plays. If Goff can keep his mistakes to a minimum to help keep the game close, things could get interesting in Berkeley.


  1. “The pair has also been used as H-backs in Meyer’s system”

    That statement is entirely incorrect to anyone who has watched the games, read the depth charts, or understands Meyer’s system. Wilson has operated as an h-back primarily working with the WRs (thus edge plays). Elliott is a true runningback in the Meyer system, and his play has shown that. Wilson has designed edge plays, Elliott has been an actual runningback.

    H-back=slot, pivot, WR/RB hybrid, even “TAZER” at Oregon (tight end, running back, z receiver). On the roster: Fields, Wilson, Brown (at points), Hall (one Hyde returns)
    Runningback=inside running, traditional. On the roster: Hall (while Hyde is out), Hyde, Smith, Ball, Elliott, Dunn

    Before you start describing Urban Meyer/Tom Herman’s offensive system, you should understand it.

  2. tim you don’t have to be so rude. Nice job dan and eric!

  3. I enjoyed the article, Dan and Eric. Keep them coming. I’m looking forward to this game. No idea how it will play out but I don’t think it will be a cakewalk by any means. Go Buckeyes!

  4. Won’t be easy. But. We will win 38-23

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