After Ohio State was forced to punt the ball away to start the second quarter, Cal took over at their own 18-yard line. Jared Goff and Khalfani Muhammad were able to keep things moving on the drive, but the Golden Bears missed an opportunity when a dropped pass from Darius Powe would lead to the Buckeyes getting the ball back after the punt.
Kenny Guiton led the Buckeyes onto the field starting at their own 40-yard line. Guiton completed consecutive passes to Dontre Wilson and Philly Brown for a first down. After a narrow miss on a deep throw to Evan Spencer, Guiton continued moving the chains with his feet on a 12-yard rush. Jordan Hall raced to another nice 18-yard rush, followed by another Guiton keeper pushed the Buckeyes to first and goal. After three plays, the Cal defensive front refused to allow Ohio State in the endzone, but another 4th down attempt by coach Meyer paid off, with Jordan Hall giving the Buckeyes a 31-14 lead following the Drew Basil PAT.
Cal started off their next drive from their own 25-yard line and nearly threw an interception to Bradley Roby on the first play. A late-hit personal foul on Ryan Shazier gave Cal the ball at their own 47-yard line and a couple of plays later, more flags flew when Ohio State was called for offsides. Jared Goff overthrew a wide open Chris Harper in the endzone, but showed off a couple of nifty moves on the next play to help gain another Golden Bears first down. After a short Brendan Bigelow run, Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier went down with a reported shoulder injury, and would head to the locker room. The Buckeyes would hold the Golden Bears to a field goal to make it 31-17.
The Buckeyes would take over on their own 25 after the touchback with 4:32 remaining in the first half. Philly Brown made his second reception of the game for 7 yards, followed by two consecutive rushes by Jordan Hall. Guiton would overthrow Philly Brown, who had a step on the California cornerback, and would be short on his 3rd and 1 keeper. Coach Meyer thought about going for it, but would call a timeout. Ohio State punted the ball, and gave the Golden Bears the ball at their own 15-yard line.
Ryan Shazier would reappear on the field as Cal took over on offense. The Golden Bears continued to attack the Buckeye defense with their short, quick passing game and with the help of running back Bigelow, would move the chains. Pushing into Ohio State territory, the Golden Bears would face a 3rd and 7 but the Ohio State defensive line, courtesy of Steve Miller and Jamal Marcus, provided pressure to Jared Goff and forced a 4th down. California then put Goff in as the punter (they share the same number) and pulled off a trick play for a first down. With 29 seconds remaining, Goff looked to bring the Golden Bears into the endzone with a pass that would fall incomplete and a failed 1-yard screen to Bryce Treggs. That left 3 seconds left in the first half, but a field goal would cut the lead to 31-20.
Kenny Guiton: 13-20, 228 yards, 3 touchdowns, 5 carries, 26 yards
Devin Smith: 3 receptions, 149 yards, 2 touchdowns
Ryan Shazier: 11 tackles, 9 solo, 1 forced fumble
Jordan Hall: 10 carries, 84 yards, 1 touchdown
Dontre Wilson: 2 carries, 21 yards, 3 receptions, 48 yards