The door has finally opened up.
The Heisman Trophy was once gift wrapped with a West Virginia quarterback's name on it, but after Geno Smith and company lost to Texas Tech last week, we can finally begin to send out invitations to a few other college football players.
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is one of those guys, as the sophomore quarterback has done everything for this undefeated Buckeyes team.
With seven games in the books, Miller has already surpassed last season’s totals of passing yards (1,271), rushing yards (912) and has tied his total touchdown mark from a year ago (20). If it wasn't for the sophomore’s remarkable performance last week, Ohio State would have lost to Indiana and would have likely been banned from playing football again in the Big Ten.
Now the Buckeyes will be lucky enough to play a struggling Purdue team this weekend.
The Boilermakers were supposed to be one of the surprise teams in the conference this season, but haven't quite lived up to expectations, as the team has lost two games in a row and is currently 3-3 on the year.
But the main reason Miller should be licking his chops is because this Purdue defense has been one of the worst he will face all season.
What was supposed to be one of the best defensive lines in the Big Ten, Purdue has generated zero pressure on opposing quarterbacks all season. The defense as a whole has given up over 400 total yards in three-straight games, including 247 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Wisconsin running back Montee Ball.
Purdue head coach Danny Hope tried to explain to the Chicago Tribune what the issue is:
The result was from our team not being fundamental. We tried to tackle but we were diving at ankles. We weren't able to wrap guys up and were diving at ankles too much. We needed to cover in the back half of the defense and cover them better. We weren't able to stop their play action attack and they had guys wide open. That kind of thing is inexcusable If you load the box up you have to be able to cover up in the back half of the defense.
Those words are exactly what opposing team’s say after they play the Ohio State quarterback, but the sad part is Hope has realized his team has issues before they have even run into Miller. He sure makes a lot of guys miss when trying to tackle him, and if you are falling for play-action passes against Joel Stave, Purdue really hasn't seen anything yet.
Good luck trying to keep up.
Miller has improved his completion percentage to 60 percent, which is a six percent increase from his freshman season. But it is his running ability that has really taken off, as he has topped over 100 yards on the ground for three-straight weeks and has 11 plays of over 20 yards with his feet.
His 7.07 yards per carry average is good for 22nd in the country and his nine rushing touchdowns are the second most in the Big Ten.
Who is your Heisman favorite after seven weeks?
Stopping the running game hasn't been a strong point this season for the Boilermakers, as the unit is ranked 11th in the Big Ten, allowing nearly 200 yards on the ground a game. They have also allowed six runs to go over 30 yards, which is the worst in the conference as well.
Miller has already shown that he deserves some Heisman consideration, as he is No. 2 on the ESPN Heisman board at the moment. But playing against a brutal defense such as Purdue will only help the sophomore’s numbers that the Heisman voters fall in love with.
Just look at Smith, as he has mostly played against defenses that aren't worth mentioning; only difference between the two is that Miller has been able to lead his school to an undefeated record through the first half of the season.
This week’s showdown against Purdue should be an easy victory, but is another huge step towards Miller winning the Heisman Trophy.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.