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Ohio State Football: QB Braxton Miller Will Be 2013 Heisman Front-Runner

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 27: Quarterback Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks to pass against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the third quarter at Beaver Stadium on October 27, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. The Ohio State Buckeyes won, 35-23. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIDecember 17, 2012

How is Ohio State QB Braxton Miller possibly the front-runner for the 2013 Heisman Trophy when Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel won the award as a freshman this season?

It may be difficult to comprehend, but with all the other competition departing due to graduation as well as one particular recent development, Miller will emerge as the leader for college football's most coveted individual award this coming year.

Will Brinson of CBS Sports relayed the odds on his Twitter page as to who has opened the race with the lead according to the sportsbooks:

Johnny Manziel opens at 7/2 fave for 2013 Heisman at @sportsbook_com. Braxton Miller 4/1, Aaron Murray 5/1. Clowney 15/1

— Will Brinson (@willbrinson) December 13, 2012

It's obviously still very early, but there is something that three-day old tweet hadn't accounted for. The Aggies' offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury—who was also the architect behind the record-setting aerial attack led by QB Case Keenum at the University of Houston—accepted the head coaching job at his alma mater, Texas Tech.

That can't be emphasized enough. It's clear that Kingsbury is one of the most brilliant offensive minds in the college game today. His track record is limited, but its impressiveness is mind-blowing.

Another factor to consider: Manziel is undoubtedly a phenomenal scrambling quarterback, but he will be losing invaluable left tackle Luke Joeckel, who is projected as a consensus top-10 NFL draft pick.

Now to the subject of Miller: He is entering his second year in the Urban Meyer spread offense that clearly accentuated his strengths in his sophomore campaign. He was good enough to lead the Buckeyes to an undefeated record, and showed steady improvement as a passer.

Manziel may be a better passer than Miller at this point, but Miller has the mechanics to improve and is a more explosive runner—quicker, faster and more agile—than his Texas A&M counterpart.

There's also the factor of competition. SEC defenses are the best in the nation, and will have to figure Johnny Football out eventually.

Meanwhile, Miller will be playing in the Big Ten against inferior opponents most of the time.

The man nipping at Miller's heels in the early Heisman odds is Georgia QB Aaron Murray, who has the same problem as Manziel—playing in the Southeastern Conference. Murray would have to run the table and win the conference while absolutely lighting it up since he doesn't have the athletic ability of Miller or Manziel.

What's more likely to happen is that the dynamic sophomore-to-be RB tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall will overshadow Murray.

The Bulldogs are also losing a ton of players on defense, which could heavily impact the overall success of the team next season.

Considering quarterbacks have won 11 of the past 13 Heisman awards, it's hard to imagine that trend changing after Manziel's win over Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o, who had a phenomenal year and even won the Maxwell Award as the college football Player of the Year.

Thanks to more stability on the coaching staff and less of a demanding schedule in terms of opposing defenses, Miller will be considered the leading candidate to win the Heisman Trophy at the start of 2013.

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