NOTEBOOK: Little Prophet Breaks Off Big KOR
With today's 52-34 No. 4/3 Ohio State victory over California, the Buckeyes improved to 7-1 in the all-time series. Cal won the first meeting in the 1921 Rose Bowl, 28-0.
The 38 combined points scored in the first quarter tied for fifth most in Cal history.
Tailback Khalfani Muhammad's 42-yard kick return in the third quarter was a career high. A true freshman, Muhammad entered the game leading the Pac-12 in kick returns, averaging 21.0 yards per return.
Muhammad also rushed five times for 21 yards, and caught one ball for 14 yards.
Senior kicker Vincenzo D'Amato's season-best 43-yard field goal at the end of the first half, and his 27-yard field goal earlier in the second quarter gave him eight successful conversions on nine tries this season. D'Amato entered the game leading the conference in field goals.
The 34 points scored on Saturday marked the third straight game in which the Bears have scored 30 or more points. The last time Cal scored 30 points in three straight games was the first three games of the 2011 campaign – Fresno State (36), Colorado (36) and Presbyterian (63).
At the end of the first quarter, freshman quarterback Jared Goff found sophomore Chris Harper for a 41-yard touchdown reception. It was Harper's third touchdown of 2013.
On third-and-seven at the Ohio State 42, Goff rolled left and threw back to his right to find Harper on an inside screen. Harper beat several defenders and finally evaded Christian Bryant to hit the front pylon of the end zone. The play was originally ruled down at the one-yard line, but after review, was ruled a touchdown to make it 24-14, Buckeyes.
Harper notched his second 100-yard receiving performance this season, third of his career, with six catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Sophomore receiver Bryce Treggs hauled in his second career touchdown catch in the third quarter, after Goff hit him with a back-shoulder fade on first-and-10 from the Buckeyes' 14. His first score came against Nevada in last year's season opener. Treggs finished with seven catches for 51 yards and a touchdown – his first game under 100 yards this season.
James Grisom hauled in his second career reception, and it was a big one. With 8:01 left in the first quarter, and Cal down 21-0, Goff showed great field awareness with the pocket collapsing. On second-and-10 at the Bears' 39-yard line, Goff stepped up and lofted a prayer to Grisom at the opposing 35, and Grisom took the heave and ran with it for a 61-yard touchdown. It was Grisom's first career touchdown catch, and the second reception of his career.
Goff ended the game completing 31 of 53 passes for 371 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception. It was his first three-touchdown performance. The last Cal quarterback to throw for 300 yards in three straight games was Aaron Rodgers in the final three games of the 2003 season (348 vs. Washington, 359 at Stanford and 394 vs. Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl).
"I think he's tremendous, and I went and told him that after the game," said Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. "They have some very good wideouts, and that's a big, strapping freshman. Unless we see him in a bowl game, we're not going to play him for a couple of years, and I think he's going to be really good. A lot of respect for him."
Goff's 58.5% completion rate was his lowest this season, while the 371 passing yards were also the fewest he's tallied in his first three games.
Punter Cole Leininger -- who came out for Goff on a fake punt late in the second quarter (both wear No. 16) – averaged 49.0 yards per boot on Saturday, with one inside the 20 and a long of 60 yards. On the season, Leininger is averaging 43.9 yards per punt, with a long of 70, four fair catches and four inside the 20 in three games.
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