BERKELEY -- Cal running back Brendan Bigelow has at least two fans in Columbus, Ohio.
One of them is the man who mailed him a handwritten letter last year after Bigelow ran for 160 yards, including touchdowns of 81 and 59 yards, in the Bears' 35-28 loss at Ohio State.
"He said, 'Good game. You almost beat us.' It was a pretty good letter, from a fan of Ohio State," Bigelow said. "It's on my wall."
Bigelow also has an admirer in Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer, who would prefer not to see a repeat performance by the Cal junior when No. 4 Ohio State visits Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
"I certainly do remember Bigelow. He had incredible speed when he got in the open field, made us look silly as far as missed tackles," Meyer said. "We've tackled every day since then because of our (poor) tackling on him that day."
Bigelow understands he won't sneak up on the Buckeyes this time.
"I'm pretty sure they know who I am now," he said. "I like the challenge. It's definitely going to be a lot more difficult."
Through Cal's first two games, Bigelow has rushed for 136 yards on 4.1 yards per attempt, without a touchdown. Still developing confidence in his right knee, which underwent surgery last spring to repair a torn meniscus, Bigelow gives himself a D-minus grade so far.
"I expect more of myself," he said.
Bigelow stopped short of predicting an individual splash Saturday but said the Bears will be revved up a year after their near-miss on the road.
"We're so excited, ready to go," he said. "We have a chip on our shoulder. We're coming after them."
"In some ways, I'm re-evaluating where I thought we were probably and where we are," he said.
He sees a young team decimated by injuries on defense and not able to complement a prolific passing attack with a consistent running game. The Bears rank ninth in the Pac-12 in rushing and last in scoring defense and total defense.
"It's put a little bit of a strain on us, and now we've got to have the other guys step up and pick it up," Dykes said. "That's our job as coaches, to bring them along and get them where they give us an opportunity to go out and win."
Ohio State (2-0) at Cal (1-1), 4 p.m. Fox