Both Braxton Miller and Adolphus Washington did not show up in uniform for the start of the game, and in their places, Kenny Guiton and Steve Miller took over at quarterback and defensive end. So far, so good for the backups.
California started off the game with the first possession of the game, but were quickly shut down with a three and out by the Buckeye defense. Following an illegal block in the back called on Evan Spencer, Kenny Guiton and the offense started out the drive from their own 6-yard line. Ohio State hit the lottery on their second play on a deep 90-yard pass to Devin Smith from Kenny Guiton for a quick touchdown, putting the Buckeyes up 7-0 following the PAT. The drive was only plays, 94 yards and lasted only 32 seconds. In fact, the play was the longest touchdown pass in Ohio State history.
On Cal's next drive, Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff started to get into a rhythm with the quick passing attack, but following a couple of hiccups (such as fumbling the snap on third down) Cal would have to punt again. Ohio State would take over on their own 27-yard line and started with a hand-off to true freshman Dontre Wilson for a 26-yard rush. Kenny Guiton and Devin Smith would hook up once more on the second play of the drive, with a rainbow into the endzone for a 47-yard touchdown pass for a 14-0 lead.
With only three and a half minutes off the clock, momentum was no doubt in favor of the Buckeyes and it showed on Cal's next possession. On third down, Jared Goff was sacked and stripped by Buckeye linebacker Ryan Shazier, with Ohio State recovering at Cal's 23-yard line. It didn't take Ohio State very long to quickly capitalize on offense. Philly Brown got things started with an 8-yard rush and following Guiton's first incompletion of the day followed by two rushes from Rod Smith and Jordan Hall, coach Meyer elected to go for it on 4th down. Guiton threw to the corner of the endzone and found wide receiver Chris Fields for Guiton's third passing touchdown of the day, giving Ohio State a 21-0 lead.
Cal was finally able to find a hole in the secondary of Ohio State, with a 62-yard touchdown pass from Jared Goff to James Grisom to cut the Buckeyes' lead to 21-7. Dontre Wilson again got things going for the Buckeyes getting a touch-pass from Guiton, showing off his speed for 32 yards. A few plays later, Kenny Guiton struggling with a read-option to Jordan Hall, Guiton coughed up the football and the Golden Bears recovered. Cal's celebration was short-lived, however; Christian Bryant came up with a big interception on the first play of the Golden Bears' drive, when Jared Goff attempted a deep flea-flicker.
The Ohio State offense was able to maintain composure after the previous drive, and kept things rolling with a 36-yard rush provided by Jordan Hall. Dontre Wilson was dropped for a loss and when Kenny Guiton badly missed an open Devin Smith, kicker Drew Basil added to the Buckeyes' lead with a 39-yard field goal on 4th down putting Ohio State up 24-7.
California went back to the rushing game with Bigelow to start out the ensuing possession, mixing in a few more quick passes. Khalfani Muhammad got the Golden Bears a first down on a 6-yard rush, but the Buckeyes would get their second sack of the day from defensive lineman Chris Carter. An offsides penalty against Michael Bennett would remove another interception (Armani Reeves) and Cal would take advantage with a big 42-yard touchdown coming on a screen from Jared Goff to Chris Harper. The Buckeyes would take over on their own 25-yard line with a 24-14 lead. A false start, followed by an errant snap gave the Buckeyes 3rd and long deep in their own territory.
Kenny Guiton: 8-12, 197 yards, 3 touchdowns
Devin Smith: 3 receptions, 149 yards, 2 touchdowns
Jordan Hall: 4 carries, 49 yards
Dontre Wilson: 2 carries, 21 yards