BERKELEY -- No. 4 Ohio State showed Cal how far it has to go to become a prime-time player in college football with a 52-34 rout Saturday that never was close.

The Buckeyes (3-0) led 21-0 after six minutes and were unfazed by every offensive gimmick the Bears threw at them. A flea-flicker, a hook-and-ladder pass and lateral, a fake punt -- none of them covered up what has become a painfully clear Cal deficiency.

The Golden Bears (1-2) have two weeks (after a bye) to figure out how to play some semblance of defense before they open Pac-12 Conference play on the road against No. 2 Oregon. The Ducks are scoring more than 61 points a game.

"We've got to start better," first-year Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. "With the schedule we're going to play, we can't get down 21-0."

Playing in front of a sellout crowd of 62,467 at Memorial Stadium -- seemingly half of them wearing Ohio State red -- the Buckeyes didn't miss a beat without star quarterback Braxton Miller, who sprained a knee last week and did not dress.

Senior backup Kenny Guiton made his first start since high school and threw touchdowns on the Buckeyes' first three possessions. Ohio State wound up with 608 total yards -- the third straight Cal opponent to top 500.

Cal's record after three games is no surprise. The Bears faced then-22nd-ranked Northwestern in the opener, and haven't beaten Ohio State since the 1921 Rose Bowl.

But the Bears' 19th straight loss to a nonconference foe ranked in the Top-5 was the most compelling evidence that their young and injury-depleted defense is overmatched.


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"As a unit, we need to come together and win the game," said sophomore cornerback Joel Willis, a converted receiver who is part of a makeshift secondary.

Just as the week before against Portland State, the game could not have started worse for the Bears.

Ohio State, unbeaten in 15 games under coach Urban Meyer, used a 90-yard pass from Guiton to Devin Smith on its second play of the game to take a 7-0 lead. Smith was the same receiver whose 72-yard TD in the fourth quarter was the difference in last year's 35-28 defeat at Columbus.

The Buckeyes quickly added to their lead on their next series, going 73 yards in two plays, with Guiton finding Smith for a 47-yard TD. OSU's first two touchdowns came in a total elapsed time of 58 seconds.

It got worse.

Cal freshman quarterback Jared Goff was hit and fumbled on Cal's next possession, and Ohio State recovered at the Bears' 23. Six plays later, Guiton passed to Chris Fields in the right flat for a 1-yard TD and it was 21-0 with nine minutes left in the quarter.

Asked about the big early hole, Dykes conceded, "I don't really know the answer to that. We have started so poorly for three weeks."

Dykes said the coaching staff will examine everything over the next two weeks, including whether to use a lullaby or heavy metal music as the game-day morning wake-up call.

Guiton finished 21 for 32 for 276 yards with four touchdowns. Running back Jordan Hall rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns.

Goff, who led the nation in passing yards and total offense after two weeks, was 31 for 53 for 371 yards and three touchdowns -- one each to James Grisom, Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs. The Novato native has thrown for 1,306 yards in the first three games of his career.

"The guy gives us a chance to win," Dykes said.

They were pretty numbers on an ugly day for the Bears, who gave up 50 points in a nonconference game for the first time since Nevada and Colin Kaepernick laid 52 on them in 2010.

Ohio State extended a 31-20 halftime lead to 45-20 by assembling long touchdown drives on its first two possessions of the third quarter.

Goff certainly wasn't going to throw his defensive mates under the bus.

"We don't worry about the defense," he said. "We have plenty of stuff (on offense) we need to work on."

  • Cal running back Brendan Bigelow, who had 160 rushing yards and touchdowns of 81 and 59 yards in last year's 35-28 loss at Ohio State, was held to 39 yards on 11 carries.

  • Vincenzo D'Amato made both of his field goal attempts and is 8 for 9 on the season. His 43-yarder on the final play of the second quarter was set up when Goff sneaked onto the field with the punt team and extended the drive with an 11-yard completion to defensive back Stefan McClure.

  • Defensive end Chris McCain, who missed the Portland State game with a head injury, returned to action. But linebacker Nick Forbes, who has missed most of the past month with a back injury, did not get into the game.

  • The Bears haven't allowed more points in a nonconference game since a 66-0 loss at Alabama in 1973.

    For more on Cal sports, see the Bear Talk blog at ibabuzz.com/beartalk. Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.

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    INSIDE
    Defense still big question mark for Cal, writes Monte Poole. PAGE 5

    Cal's Jalen Jefferson (7) can't stop a diving touchdown catch by Ohio State's Corey Brown (10) in the second half.