What's that? You want to hear the witty commentary and rock-solid opinions of a few of the hippest Buckeye bloggers in the game? You came to the right place youngblood, we've got that on tap.This week I've teed up Ramzy "I've got a cool enough name that I don't need a nickname" Nasrallah, Chris "Dat's Dat Dude" Lauderback and Nicholas "The guy in my Lit 101 class that writes for 11W" Jervey. Pull up a stool, keep both hands where we can see them and don't forget to tip your server. This is the Eleven Warriors Round Table.
Once again the Buckeyes won, and once again they dropped in the polls. Talk the fanbase off the ledge, why does this NOT MATTER in September?
Ramzy: If September mattered Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson would have three Heisman Trophies between them. I don't think further explanation is needed.
Chris: I’m pretty sure I’m on an island here but I do think it matters, at least a little bit. Yes, it’s early and there is still a ton of football to be played but with the schedule Ohio State has this year combined with the notion voters are just looking for a reason to discount the Buckeyes, I believe it was absolutely in the team’s best interest to heel-stomp the non-conference creampuffs to take the stink off the opponents, even if just a little. Throw in Braxton being nicked up and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Buckeyes drop again this week if they don’t produce a convincing 20+ point win in Berkeley.
This is the first year I can remember in which I’m not supremely confident that an undefeated OSU squad would finish in the top two the BCS if there is a one-loss SEC team and an undefeated team from say the PAC-12, Big 12 or ACC.
Nicholas: Because the odds of being sent to Supermax for tearing off a mattress's tag are greater than the odds that Ohio State's placement in Week 2 polls would keep it out of the title game.
It's September. Contrary to popular belief, pollsters are not morons. If Ohio State plays better than Oregon or Clemson or whomever, Ohio State will be #1 or #2 by the end of the season. This isn't a Boise State situation: an undefeated season will land Ohio State a spot in the national championship game.
Over the past decade it seems the Buckeye defense has had trouble with quick screens and short passes (exactly what Sonny Dykes will look to do this weekend). What is the key to halting a slow nickel and dime into oblivion?
Ramzy: Longer defensive linemen are helpful here. Steve Miller looked about eight feet tall on Saturday. Disguising schemes prior to the snap is also helpful.
Chris: If I knew the correct answer to this question I wouldn’t be in my current field. That said, I think patience is huge. There won’t be a lot of sacks this weekend and the Buckeyes need to make sure Cal isn’t afforded the chance to take advantage of frustrated play that is too quick to force the issue. I’d also like to see a lot less cushion at the line of scrimmage by coverage guys and the less linebackers we see trying to cover a receiver, the better.
Nicholas: Creating confusion is the key. In spite of his early success, Jared Goff is a true freshman quarterback making the third start of his career. The defense doesn't need to blitz seven to create pressure; as long as they can come from unexpected angles and capitalize on tendencies, they can create enough hesitation to make the simple throws tougher. If the defensive line can get pressure on its own and get in the way of passes to the flats and line of scrimmage, they might not even need to blitz at all.
Note: this plan depends on the secondary sticking to assignments. To the defense's credit, they've been much better at that this year.
Braxton Miller has yet to play a full game in 2013. Is his Heisman campaign officially over? Why or why not?
Ramzy: His Heisman campaign isn't over because he hasn't played a full game yet. It's over because you're kidding yourself if he's going to suddenly start playing full games. It's over because Kenny Guiton has yet to run the Buckeye offense into Bollman-like futility. It's over because the Buckeyes are going to keep rolling with or without him.
Chris: It’s not officially over by any stretch considering it’s mid-September and I don’t think any other player has played out of his mind. The Heisman is won in the month of November so as long as Miller stays upright, and by extension stays in the conversation, there’s still plenty of time for a Heisman run to play itself out.
Nicholas: There are 10-11 games left for him and if any school can publicize its Heisman candidate it's Ohio State. But the previous two weeks have hurt his cause because Heisman candidates need eye-popping numbers. He hasn't been accumulating them, and somebody out there has.
If Braxton does play a full game, how many yards passing will he have? How many yards rushing?
Ramzy: This can't be overstated: Cal does not play any defense. Four quarters of Braxton Miller could top 400 yards of offense, with 150 yards of rushing only because he'll run out of bounds.
Chris: With a gimpy knee, it’s hard to say but it can’t hurt that the Cal defense is amazingly bad. I’ll take 250 through the air with another 80 on the ground. I just can’t see Urban calling more than 7 or 8 designed runs and on the zone/read, I wonder if Braxton won’t decide to give it up pre-snap just to minimize the amount of hits he’ll take.
Nicholas: California's defense is atrocious. Braxton will 280 yards passing and 70 yards rushing before Kenny Guiton does mop-up duty in the fourth quarter.
Cal RB, Brendan Bigelow, had a huge game against the Buckeyes last season (4 carries for 160 yards and 2 TDs). What do you expect his stat-line to look like on Saturday?
Ramzy: He'll have under 100 yards rushing because Ohio State won't play its worst tackling game of the decade against Call for the second year in a row.
Chris: Last year was a fluke in a year when the Buckeyes were particularly horrific at tackling. This year, Bigelow comes in averaging just 68 rush yards a game on 4.1 per carry with another 30 rec/yards per game and he’s not going to catch anybody by surprise. I’ll say he gets around 70 yards and maybe a score.
Nicholas: He only averaged 4.1 yards per carry against Northwestern and Portland State, so assuming no blown plays I predict 12-16 carries for 40-50 yards.
Dontre Wilson carried the ball 5 times last week (one for a TD). Do you expect that number to rise against Cal? Why or why not?
Ramzy: He'll have the same-ish number of carries, as I expect more players to touch the ball this week against the Bears' high school defense.
Chris: I do expect Wilson to get a few more touches this week but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Meyer lean on Jordan Hall pretty heavily in the run game, especially early, as he might feel more comfortable relying on more seasoned players in Ohio State’s first roadie of the season.
Nicholas: His carries will only increase if he plays in garbage time. Otherwise it should be about the same, as Ohio State doesn't want to overexpose him against one opponent.
Who is the Buckeye defensive player we’ll be talking about after the game. Why?
Ramzy: Jamal Marcus was beastly last week, but San Diego State's terribleness stole the spotlight. His play should steal it back on Saturday.
Chris: Doran Grant. He’s going to see plenty of balls thrown his way with Cal’s passing-heavy offense featuring a true freshman quarterback that will have been counseled all week about staying away from Roby. Honorable mention goes to Joey Bosa. My man crush on that dude is already at Defcon 3.
Nicholas: Doran Grant stands to benefit from a couple of factors: California will throw the ball at least 40 times, and if Goff has any sense he'll stay away from Bradley Roby's side of the field. If anybody is going to come away with a couple of interceptions, Grant's the most likely guy to do it.
What is your final score prediction?
Ramzy: Ohio State 59, Cal 31
Chris: I’m going a little conservative considering Braxton’s knee and this being the first roadie. I’ll say Ohio State 34, Cal 20.
Nicholas: Ohio State 55, California 21.
Which U.S. President living or dead does Urban Meyer remind you of? Explain yourself.
Ramzy: John Adams. Energetic, vivacious and more philosophical than political. Refused to refer to the French by name - called them "X, Y and Z" which is 18th century Colonial American slang for "our rival."
Chris: Teddy Roosevelt. Because both are/were complete badasses.
Nicholas: Grover Cleveland. He kicked ass in his dream job for one term, then took an extended absence from the job against his will, then returned to kick even more ass in a second term.