Cal quarterback Jared Goff has thrown for 930 yards through two games, giving him the most in the NCAA FBS – by more than 130 yards.
That's right, through two weeks of play, no other quarterback in the nation had topped the 800-yard mark, with Oregon State's Seth Mannion the closest at 794.
Part of it comes from the fact that Goff plays in Cal's up-tempo, pass-happy offense. The Bears have run 97.0 plays per game, tops in the nation entering the weekend, and called for passes on 63.7 of its plays, giving Goff plenty of time to pad his stats.
On the other hand, there are plenty of teams running high-tempo, pass-heavy offenses who haven't racked up nearly as many passing yards, so it's clear Goff must be doing something right.
An analysis of early game tape shows he can make all the throws required at the college level, and he's also earned some admirers early in his freshman season.
"I'm really impressed," said Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, who watched Goff throw for 445 yards and two touchdowns each way during NU's season-opening win vs. the Golden Bears.
"He picked up that offense well, and that's a quarterback-friendly offense, in my opinion. They give him an opportunity to be right every play. Half of the field is a run threat and the other half is a passing threat. In our research we felt like we had to be sound in preparation for both, and then they ask the quarterback to get the ball out of his hand quickly. They took some shots down the field and we won some and lost some, but his moxie, his poise, his arm strength, his grasp of the offense were really impressive to us, and he's going to be a special player in that offense for that team."
Goff, the first commit in Cal's 2013 class, was rated a four-star prospect and Scout's No. 21 quarterback coming out of Kentfield (Calif.) Marin Catholic. He beat out highly rated redshirt freshman Zac Kline, the No. 4-rated QB in the '12 class, for the job this fall and has been impressive.
He threw for 485 yards and two more touchdowns with no interceptions in game two vs. Portland State, a 37-30 victory for the Bears. Still, Ohio State thinks it can affect Goff, who despite the lofty pass totals early in his career is still a first-year player.
"Yeah, because as a true freshman you can be really athletic and all that, but I think it's easier to get flustered and kind of just get a little nervous, especially when you see the D-line closing in," defensive lineman Michael Bennett said. "I feel like our d-line does a really good job of applying pressure to the quarterback, so hopefully we can make him feel that."
Prepping Made Difficult Oftentimes, it can be easy to prepare for a foreign foe like Cal – a team the Buckeyes hadn't played in decades – the second time around in a home-and-home series once you have some familiarity gained from the first matchup.
Of course, that's not the case with the Golden Bears. While last year, the focus of the pregame talk was on solving the team's Bear defense – which it didn't even use in the first half – this year, it's more about stopping the fast Cal offensive attack.
"I think last year's game will be no impact at all," Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said this week.
To get their prep done, then, the Buckeyes had to look in a few places. Fired up were clips from Cal's first two games, including its game vs. a Northwestern team the Buckeyes will play in a few weeks, and Ohio State also looked back to last year when Cal head coach Sonny Dykes and coordinator Tony Franklin were running the same offense at Louisiana Tech.
It worked, too, as the Bulldogs led the nation in scoring and were pretty close to the top in plays and yards per game, too, while senior Colby Cameron accounted for 35 touchdowns while tossing just five interceptions.
"Early this summer, this spring, we looked at a lot of La Tech tape, exclusively, obviously, because there was no game tape," OSU safeties coach/co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers. "And as you look at what they are doing now, it's on par with what they did at La Tech. Obviously they have a young quarterback, so the young quarterback is probably not as immersed as the quarterback from La Tech. He was pretty talented."
Of course, the Buckeyes are better off than Northwestern, which only had tape of last year's Bulldogs offense to get ready for the season opener.
"We went back and looked at what La Tech had done under Coach Dykes's regime and tried to study as much as we possibly could," Fitzgerald said. "There were a lot of similarities. You just didn't quite know how they were going to deploy all their personnel."
Vote On It
With two wins in its first two games, Ohio State has gone down two spots in the Associated Press writers' poll and one spot in the coaches' voting.
That has led some to joke the Buckeyes might finish 12-0 this regular season and end up 13th in the polls. That doesn't seem very likely, though, and senior wideout Corey Brown feels that if the Buckeyes keep taking care of business, they'll be fine.
"We're not worries about the polls," he said. "We know if we keep winning, they're not going to drop us so far… I mean, how far can you drop an undefeated team?"
The whole situation does show the Buckeyes might not yet have earned the respect of the national voters, though. Ohio State won't face a ranked team in nonconference play, while Clemson – which passed OSU in the AP poll this week – has a big win over No. 9 Georgia. In addition, OSU hasn't quite posted the eye-popping numbers of Oregon, the other team to leapfrog the Buckeyes since the start of the campaign, which has scored 66 and 59 points in season-opening victories.
Just don't expect Meyer to be worried about the whole thing, though.
"Can we explain it or does it impact us?" he said. "It doesn't impact us and I can't explain it. So I think at the end in the end, I think everything's going to work out, the best teams will be up there."
Decker Bounces Back
One player whose performance was discussed quite a bit after game one was Taylor Decker, and the old saying about offensive linemen – it's better off when you don't hear their name – was true.
Decker was beaten thrice for sacks in the opener vs. Buffalo, causing some fans to wonder just how ready the sophomore right tackle – the only new starter on the OSU OL – was for prime time.
Some of those concerns were answered, then, vs. San Diego State. Decker didn't allow a sack against the aggressive blitzes of the Aztecs while showing an improved all-around performance.
"He played much better, much more confident in the second game," offensive line coach Ed Warinner said. "You guys know, and we know, and I've talked to former head coaches who wander around in this building about guys whose first game in the 'Shoe sometimes can be very stressful and they can get worked up, and I think he was just a little too excited.
"You know, nerves, whatever, pressure, tried to play outside of himself. He looked more like what I saw in August in the second game, and he settled in and he played a solid game, you know, really was very productive. So what he did against San Diego State is what we thought we would get out of him and hopefully he'll continue that trend."
Facts And Figures
Ohio State enters the game with the nation's longest winning streak at 14 games. It is the 15th winning streak in school history of 10 or more games. The streak is tied for fifth longest in school history with 22 consecutive wins from 1967-69 the longest. Meyer's longest streak is also a 22-gamer in 2008 and '09 at Florida.
According to cfbstats.com, Ohio State is one of just five teams in the nation to have played two games and allowed no scrimmage plays of 30 yards or more.
Ohio State's defense has not allowed a point in the first and fourth quarters this season.
Junior Braxton Miller (2,063) needs 18 yards rushing to pass Cornelius Greene (2,080, 1972-75) and become Ohio State's recognized all-time leading rusher among QBs. Terrelle Pryor ran for 2,164 yards from 2008-10, but his stats are not recognized by the university.
Ohio State is 6-1 vs. Cal, having won six straight games in the series. The Golden Bears got the first laugh, though, winning a 28-0 decision vs. the Buckeyes at 1921 Rose Bowl. Ohio State has a record or 57-26-2 against teams that are current members of the Pac-12.
Brown has climbed into Ohio State's all-time top 20 for career receptions with his six-catch afternoon vs. SDSU. He passed Anthony Gonzalez (87 receptions between 2004-06) and Buster Tillman (88 between 1993-96) Saturday and has moved into a tie for 19th place with Brian Hartline on the all-time list.