No one expects Cal to beat Ohio State this weekend. Let’s just get that out of the way. The Buckeyes are ranked third in the nation, are coming off an undefeated season where they looked the part of a national championship team, and have one of the five best head coaches in the nation, as well as one of the better quarterbacks.
Earlier today, Ohio State head coach (and messiah) Urban Meyer announced that quarterback Braxton Miller’s injury is going leave him with a “day-to-day” status. To refresh your memory, Miller sprained his MCL in Saturday’s game against San Diego State in the opening quarter of the game. Urban is quoted as saying, “If he’s healthy, he’ll play.” In his stead, backup Kenny Guiton went 19-of-28 with 152 yards passing, two touchdowns and one interception.
I think Miller will play. In fact, I think that Meyer already knows that he’ll play. That said, even if he doesn’t play, the idea that the difference between Cal winning and losing is whether Miller plays or not is off. Ohio State is the kind of program that has such depth that one injury isn’t going to make them that much better or worse.
I am not saying that Cal can’t or won’t win. Honestly, I think there is a chance – a small one, but a chance nevertheless. But, if Cal wins, the likelihood is that it’ll be because Ohio State comes in tired from the trek out west and make mistakes because of it.
Would it help to have Miller not play on Saturday? Yes. Anything helps, especially because the way this defense has looked so far, they would love the opposing offense to be down at a key position. But Guiton is a superior player than Kieran McDonagh, and he absolutely torched the Cal defense. No one should be excited at the prospect of Miller being out, because the next man up is not that far off.
When it comes down to it, Cal’s road to glory isn’t paved with bulletin board material (although Ohio State has already provided that) or quarterback injuries. It’s paved with putting a better overall product on the field and hoping that the travel from Ohio to the Bay Area is a black hole that sucks in time, fun and productivity. If Cal can play defense like they did in the second half of the Portland State game, offense like they have all season long, and limit mistakes, they have a chance. Expecting that Miller’s absence means they have a better shot at a win is a mentality that will lead to a bad ending.