In case you wondered what the purportedly one-dimensional Buckeyes would do if QB Braxton Miller got knocked out of a game, apparently they’d just go ahead and win anyway.
In what could aptly be termed “the gasp heard ‘round the world,” Miller went out of Week 8’s game vs. Purdue with an injury late in the third quarter while Ohio State was down 20-14 but driving.
Miller gained 37 yards and got the ball down to Purdue’s 39-yard line before being zapped, and suddenly it looked like Ohio State’s perfect run through its postseason-banned campaign was earnestly in doubt (again).
The angst over Miller’s removal from the game makes a lot more sense when you consider the fact that his 1,271 yards of passing and 912 yards of rushing combine to account for 69 percent of Ohio State’s total offensive production through the first seven games of 2012.
Furthermore, Miller’s 11 passing and nine rushing TDs combine to account for 120 of the Buckeyes’ 283 total points coming into Week 8 of the season.
And then when you throw in a defense that has struggled to the tune of a No. 54 ranking in scoring and a ghastly No. 107 mark vs. the pass, tags like “one-dimensional” and “one-man show” seem to apply nicely to the Bucks.
So, what happened when the “worst case scenario” finally occurred and Miller went out with Ohio State down to an underwhelming Big Ten foe?
Well, after missing a 50-yard field goal attempt that ended the last drive Miller participated in, the Bucks stopped Purdue on its next possession only to look oh so vulnerable on their next drive that ended with a thud by virtue of a Boilermaker sack.
After another successful Buckeye defensive stand, things again turned sour on Ohio State’s next possession that stopped short of fruition with a Kenny Guiton (in the game in relief of Miller) pick.
Even another defensive stop didn’t make prospects look favorable when Ohio State got the ball back for the final time, down 22-14, with 47 ticks left on the clock on their own 39.
Seriously…this looked ugly.
But, ugly it was not; unless you were a Boilermaker enthusiast who rightly thought you finally had it in the bag in Columbus for the first time since 1988.
Yes, somehow Ohio State managed to drive the ball down the field via two successful passes, a big rushing play to convert a 3rd-and-2 and a pass interference call ultimately setting up a Guiton to Chris Fields connection for an OSU score.
Another short pass on the conversion tied up the score at 22 apiece and suddenly the Miller-less Buckeyes found their way into to the most improbably scripted OT of the weekend.
In the bonus round, Ohio State found a way to score in a hasty five plays and then the once beleaguered Buckeye D held Purdue to a mere five total yards in a four-and-out tour de force.
Game over. Buckeyes survive, well they more than survive, they come back from eight down with 47 seconds left to push the game to overtime and win.
Despite the safety and the INT, the offense scores without Miller at the helm (twice in a one minute span) and perhaps equally surprisingly the OSU D forces three consecutive Purdue punts and shuts down the Boilermakers, totally, in overtime.
The good news for Ohio State zealots transcends the fact that they can go to sleep this evening confident in the knowledge that their young team can win without Braxton Miller, but according to Austin Ward’s twitter account, they’ll have him back under center in short order.
Yes, perhaps this Buckeye team is more than just the Braxton Miller show.
And furthermore, regardless of the fact that Ohio State can’t go any further in 2012 than its finale with Michigan, maybe what we are really watching is the beginning of the team that will win the big, cheesy enchilada in 2013-14.