- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The offensive backfield picked up a boost with the return of running back Jordan Hall.
The pressure from the defensive line also made a comeback with four sacks in the first half.
And Braxton Miller is still rolling right along and piling up touchdowns.
In all, it added up to a relatively pain-free first half for Ohio State as it jumped out to a 20-7 lead at halftime over California on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Stat of the half: Miller limited his carries, but that didn’t really slow down his production. The sophomore quarterback turned in another electrifying touchdown run from 55 yards, eluding a couple tacklers at the line of scrimmage with an incredible juke and pulling away by shifting into his top gear down the left sideline. He accounted for two more touchdowns through the air to stake the Buckeyes to a lead.
Player of the half: The Golden Bears have challenged Ohio State’s receivers with one-on-one coverage down the field, but they might need another body to help stop Devin Smith. The sophomore receiver adjusted his body in the air to haul in a 25-yard touchdown and later added an athletic reception that covered 35 yards in a productive half of work with Miller.
What’s working for Ohio State: Cal made its choice to try to limit Miller’s effectiveness as a rusher. That plan wasn’t always successful, and it really didn’t make any difference to the Buckeyes with Miller hitting on 10 of his 14 attempts for 129 yards and two touchdowns through the air. The only problem so far offensively has been a couple bad drops that have ended drives.
What’s not working for Ohio State: The flags are still flying all over the field, and they haven’t been for minor infractions. The Buckeyes were hit for two unsportsmanlike penalties in a span of five plays in the second quarter, and they later had two significant calls made against them on a single snap with a late hit on the quarterback and a personal foul for grabbing a facemask. They’ll need to clean those issues up when games get tighter.