Ohio State QB Braxton Miller didn't receive a Heisman Trophy presentation invitation, but still managed to finish fifth in a season his team finished undefeated without the prospects of any bowl game.
The Buckeyes will be an early favorite for the 2013 national championship, and Miller should spearhead the campaign for the 2013 Heisman.
His numbers speak for themselves. Miller accounted for over 3,200 yards of total offense, 28 touchdowns and completed 58 percent of his passes. They don't quite reach Johnny Manziel, though, which is why Miller finished fifth.
However, the most important numbers from Miller's season are simple: 12-0.
That's the biggest reason why Miller will have a legitimate shot at unseating Manziel from his current throne and bringing the school's first Heisman home since Troy Smith did so in 2006. The Heisman trust loves winners, and Miller didn't get a loss on his school's ledger in 2012.
He'll also have QB guru and offensive genius Urban Meyer as his head coach. Meyer struck fame with Florida's Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman winner, and has similar building blocks in place after his first season with Miller.
One of the reasons Miller is the '13 favorite is because the man currently bringing the trophy back to College Station and Aggieland has an incredibly tough task in front of him.
Chris Huston of Heisman Pundit reported on how difficult it is for any man to win the award two seasons in a row. The last to do so was one of Ohio State's own—Archie Griffin in '74 and '75—and Johnny Football has an incredibly tough road ahead of him to do the same in 2013.
Face it: In today’s America, success makes you a target. How soon before the anti-Johnny Football backlash begins? In 2012, Manziel put up 4,600 yards of total offense and 43 touchdowns while leading his team to its best record since 1998. A sophomore year that falls shy of those numbers, both individually and at the team level, will be seen as a failure.
Other names like Billy Sims, Jason White, Matt Leinart and Tim Tebow have all failed to win multiple Heisman trophies. It's true that we're in uncharted territory with a freshman winning the award, but the task ahead of Manziel is one that won't be fun from an awards standpoint.
That bodes well for Miller.
In his second season with Meyer, Tebow accounted for nearly 4,200 yards of total offense and 55 touchdowns. His selection as the Heisman winner was a no-brainer.
What can Miller accomplish in his second season under Meyer? It's clear that the level of focus and satisfaction with mediocre play will be points of emphasis next season. Eleven Warriors tweeted out Miller's response to not being invited to the Heisman ceremony:
Braxton Miller on ESPNU on not getting Heisman invite: "It was a little disappointing. Just have to work harder next year."— Eleven Warriors (@11W) December 6, 2012
Miller can only continue to get better for a team that is losing a handful of players from the offensive side of the ball. The level of urgency will be there after sitting out the 2012 postseason due to NCAA sanctions—especially since the BCS national championship is the spot the Buckeyes likely gave up.
There's a lot of football to be played before we crown the next Heisman winner. But as we do in sports, it's time to put the target on the back of the favorite for the next award.
Matt Barkley crumbled as the favorite in 2012. Miller is the new favorite for 2013. How will he fare?
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.