Ohio State Football: Braxton Miller Must Step Up for Buckeyes vs. Michigan State

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 25, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 1:  Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes is sacked by Chris Norman #10 of the Michigan State Spartans during the second half on October 1, 2011 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Michigan State defeated Ohio State 10-7. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Last season, Michigan State shut down Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, causing him to have a rare lackluster game in an otherwise terrific freshman season.

Miller must exact some revenge against the Spartans this week if the Buckeyes are going to remain undefeated.

Miller completed just five passes for 56 yards in last year's meeting and actually lost 27 yards on the ground, the only time all season that happened. His struggles led to Joe Bauserman getting more snaps in the second half.

With Bauserman out of the picture, it's all up to Miller. He needs to have a much better performance for the Buckeyes to have any chance of beating the Spartans on the road. If that wasn't enough, it's one of the week's biggest games, raising the pressure level even further.

The good news is that the dual-threat quarterback should be more prepared for the high-profile situation than he was when the teams met last season. Experience is vital to having success on the road as a college QB.

Miller has already made huge strides early in his second season, totaling 14 touchdowns and nearly 1,200 yards. His ability to become a bigger threat in the passing game is what has allowed Ohio State to have a more balanced offense.

That will be key against a Michigan State defense that ranks 11th in the country. The Spartans will attempt to make Ohio State one-dimensional on offense. If Miller can stop that from happening, the Buckeyes will be in great shape.

It doesn't matter if we're talking about college or pro football, more often than not, it comes down to quarterback play. And that's an area where Ohio State has a distinct advantage. Michigan State has just three passing touchdowns and four interceptions.

Of course, Miller will need some help from his fellow playmakers, offensive line and the Ohio State defense. Jordan Hall and Devin Smith are two players who immediately come to mind when thinking about players who need to rise to the occasion.

But when push comes to shove, the game will rest on Miller's shoulders. After four games against overmatched foes, college football fans should get a good look at what the rising star is truly made of on Saturday.

Based on his play so far this season, he should be up to the task.