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Cal vs. Ohio State: Did Braxton Miller Just Have His Heisman Game?

Randy ChambersAnalyst IDecember 23, 2016

It wasn't the prettiest game for the Ohio State Buckeyes, as they narrowly escaped with their undefeated lives today against the California Golden Bears. The game came down the final possession and was sealed when Christian Bryant intercepted Cal quarterback Zach Maynard with only minutes to go.

But this game was not about Ohio State going 3-0 on the season or the team struggling against an unranked squad that lost to Nevada in Week 1.

It also wasn't about the Buckeyes defense allowing over 500 yards and 22 first downs.

This matchup will be remembered for the performance of quarterback Braxton Miller. The same quarterback who many criticized last season and labeled overrated, despite not having many playmakers on the field and being thrown into a horrible system.

Miller is a completely different quarterback this year and is thriving under head coach Urban Meyer. He came into the game as the Buckeyes' leading rusher with over 300 yards on the ground, but also had increased his completion percentage to over 66 percent in the first two games.

With much of the college football world watching today, just to see if the Buckeyes would suffer an upset, Miller responded with the best game of his collegiate career. He only completed 53 percent of his passes, but made the throws when they needed to be made.

When Cal took an early 7-6 lead in the first quarter, Miller led his team down the field 75 yards in just four plays to give the Buckeyes the lead back.

With the game tied late in the fourth quarter, on third down Miller made a remarkable pass to wide receiver Devin Smith, who ran the rest of the way for what was considered to be the game-winning touchdown.

Oh, and if you were one of those waiting for a Heisman moment, there was this:

The sophomore quarterback threw for 249 yards, rushed for 75 and scored all five of the Buckeyes touchdowns. This game may not have been on many fans' radar, especially with games such as Alabama-Arkansas and Notre Dame-Michigan State on the menu, but it certainly showed us a lot and likely put Miller's name into the Heisman Trophy conversation.

Quarterbacks such as Matt Barkley and Geno Smith will continue to be the front-runners for this award, but there seems to be somebody who is quietly sneaking up on them.

Games in the middle of September are usually forgotten with so much football left to play; however, a performance like this will be a game to remember when voters are penciling in their ballots.

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