Ohio State's Michael Bennett recovers a fumble by California's Jared Goff during the first quarter.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
BERKELEY, Calif. — Ohio State’s big-play threat had the longest catch in school history Saturday night.
Could it have been any other way?
Devin Smith continued to burnish his reputation as one of the nation’s top deep targets with touchdown catches of 90 and 47 yards from backup-turned-starter Kenny Guiton early in the first quarter.
The 6-foot-1, 198-pound junior averaged 39.3 yards per catch on his 10 touchdowns over his first two seasons — including the 72-yard game-winning touchdown against Cal in Columbus last season — and has only jacked up his median haul this season.
Smith had a 47-yard touchdown catch in the Buckeyes’ opener against Buffalo and beat the Cal defense on two of their first four plays from scrimmage. Guiton found Smith streaking down the right sideline for a 90-yard reception that pushed aside Morris Bradshaw’s 88-yard touchdown run against Wisconsin in 1971 as OSU’s longest play from scrimmage. The pair then connected two offensive plays later for a 47-yard score.
FEELING AT HOME: Memorial Stadium turned into Horseshoe West.
Scarlet-clad fans were just as loud — and almost as well-represented — as those decked out in Cal yellow, with Buckeyes supporters appearing to account for at least a third of the 63,000-seat stadium’s near-sellout crowd.
OSU fans devoured the school’s 3,500-ticket allotment, then turned to the Cal box office and the secondary market to commandeer 12 sections and make their full-throated presence known throughout the stadium.
The support also included the Buckeyes marching band, which will travel to four of the team’s five road games this season.
HOTEL SCARE: Ohio State’s arrival to its downtown Oakland hotel was the lead news story on Bay Area newscasts.
Not for the reason the Buckeyes would have hoped.
OSU’s hopes for a distraction-free road trip came to a quick end when a gunfight erupted outside its hotel Friday afternoon. Less than a half hour before the team arrived at the Oakland Marriott, two shooters just outside the hotel began firing at each other and a stray bullet struck a cab driver, according to San Francisco’s ABC-affiliate KGO-TV.
A man was seen running from the hotel, but KGO reported no arrests had yet been made. The Buckeyes were not directly affected, though guests remained on edge.
"Wanted to go for pre-game jog in Oakland," Shelley Meyer, the wife of coach Urban Meyer, wrote on Twitter. "But after the SHOOTING outside the hotel right before we arrived, not a good idea."
SHAZIER OK: Junior linebacker Ryan Shazier returned after retreating briefly to the locker room with an apparent shoulder injury midway through the second quarter.
For OSU, it was a good thing he did.
The preseason Big Ten defensive player of the year finished the first half with 11 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.
WASHINGTON OUT: Quarterback Braxton Miller wasn’t the only Buckeyes starter out.
Sophomore defensive end Adolphus Washington did not make the trip, still slowed by a strained groin suffered in OSU’s 42-7 win over San Diego State.
Freshman Joey Bosa started in Washington’s place, and on the first play from scrimmage, the nephew of former Buckeyes star Eric Kumerow ripped through the line to pull down Cal running back Brendan Bigelow for a two-yard loss.
CHASING HISTORY: Meyer and Ohio State looked to take another step into history Saturday.
A 15th straight victory would mark the fifth-longest winning streak in school history and the the third-longest streak of Meyer’s 12-year coaching career.
OSU won 22 straight games from 1967-69, 19 straight from 2002-03 and 2005-06, and 17 straight from 1915-17.
Meyer’s teams won 22 straight from 2008-09 at Florida and 20 straight between 2003-05 at Utah and UF.