Buckeyes gear up for first road game of season
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)
''It was a fantastic environment,'' he said of the game and all that surrounded it provided by the band, cheerleaders and the Buckeyes faithful.
This week, the environment won't be nearly so friendly.
Having dispatched two mediocre teams at home, No. 4 Ohio State hits the road for the first time when it travels to California for a game on Saturday night.
The Buckeyes (2-0), who dropped a spot in the latest AP Top 25, beat up on the punchless Aztecs a week after rolling over Buffalo, 40-20 - also at home.
The final word on whether standout quarterback Braxton Miller will play Saturday probably won't come out until doctors and trainers further evaluate his left-knee sprain. He was injured on a tackle early in the game and did not return, with backup Kenny Guiton leading the way in the win with two TD passes and a scoring run.
''Kenny Guiton's one of the greatest leaders I know,'' offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said. ''He's a mature guy. He's confident. He's always calm. He encourages us all to do well. We don't miss a beat. I'm excited to be in there with Kenny G. He does a great job. If we didn't have Braxton Miller he could potentially be the guy.''
Meyer said after the game he thought Miller would be available for Cal, but if not then there's no choice but to have Guiton be ''the guy'' when the Buckeyes take their act on the road.
Most teams have difficulty when they pack their bags for the first road game. The Buckeyes are just 9-6 in their last 15 road openers.
Meyer is 10-1 as a head coach in his team's first road game, the lone loss a 28-26 setback at Texas A&M in 2003, his first year at Utah.
Cal (1-1) will be playing its third home game so far. The Bears, in a battle of upcoming Buckeyes opponents, lost their opener to Northwestern, 44-30. This past Saturday, they knocked off Football Championship Subdivision foe Portland State, 37-30.
''They outplayed us and outcoached us and we were fortunate to win,'' said Cal's first-year coach, Sonny Dykes.
Those words don't bode well for a team when a team with national aspirations is coming your way.
His players also were aware that they have to show a world of improvement in their next game.
''They're a great team, Portland State. They came in and surprised us,'' said quarterback Jared Goff, who completed 33 of 51 passes for 485 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. ''I'm not saying we were not ready for an FCS team, but they surprised us with their speed. We should have played a lot better than we did, and we'll need to get better next week.''
The Bears trailed 30-27 in the third quarter, then shut out Portland State the rest of the way.
''We haven't gone over Ohio State,'' Cal running back Khalfani Muhammad said. ''Starting (on Sunday) that's what we'll focus on, and that's when the adjustments will come.''
Since the loss at A&M a decade ago, Meyer's teams have won eight road openers in a row, including last year's make-or-break 17-16 win over No. 20 Michigan State. The Buckeyes had to come back in the second half of that game.
Meyer has said he has often wondered to himself where that team might have ended up if the seniors hadn't spoken up at the half and helped stoke the fires of the younger players. He doesn't think it would have been 12-0, that's for sure.
Leadership like that is needed whenever a team - no matter how talented - travels for the first time in a season.
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