Braxton Miller: Heisman Odds and Season Outlook for Ohio State's Star QB

David Regimbal@davidreg412Featured ColumnistAugust 25, 2013

Braxton Miller: Heisman Odds and Season Outlook for Ohio State's Star QB

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    Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller set a single-season school record for total offense in 2012, throwing and running for a combined 3,310 yards and 28 touchdowns.

    Those numbers were good enough to earn Miller a fifth-place finish in last year's Heisman race. Many are expecting bigger numbers and a higher finish for the Buckeyes' signal-caller this year.

    The reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year will lead No. 2 Ohio State through a schedule that could yield huge numbers to the Buckeyes' offense. If Ohio State improves in Year 2 under Urban Meyer, something every team has done throughout his coaching career, the Buckeyes could be on the brink of a special season.

    Will that special season include Miller winning Ohio State its eighth Heisman Trophy

     

Who He Is

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    Miller is a 6'2", 215-pound junior quarterback out of Huber Heights, Ohio.

    After a breakout sophomore campaign, Miller has garnered a lot of attention this offseason. The Buckeyes' quarterback has been named to the Maxwell, Davey O'Brien, Walter Camp and Manning Award preseason watch lists, according to Ohio State's official website.

Why He Can Win It

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    Miller has pretty much everything you want in a Heisman contender.

    Playing for a highly ranked team with national title aspirations? Check. Orchestrating an offense that chews up a lot of yards and puts up a ton of points? Check.

    Hype, exposure and a knack for making big plays? Check, check and check.

    Meyer's spread offense and Miller's uncanny ability to run it should produce another season full of highlight-worthy moments. If 2012 was just the warm-up, 2013 has the potential to be an historic season.

Biggest Obstacle

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    Miller's biggest obstacle this season will be avoiding injury.

    Quarterbacks in Meyer's offense are heavily featured in the run game, and Miller proved that when he averaged nearly 19 carries per game last year.

    That workload took its toll on Miller, and the Buckeyes' signal-caller will need to make a concerted effort to take fewer hits running Meyer's system this year.

Key Games

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    Ohio State won't face a ranked opponent during non-conference play, but a cross-country clash with Cal will certainly provide Miller a chance to wow a national audience.

    The Buckeyes kick off their conference slate with back-to-back prime-time matchups against Wisconsin (at home) and Northwestern (on the road). 

    Ohio State will play another night game in the 'Shoe against Penn State on October 26.

    The biggest game of the season, though, will be the season finale against the Wolverines. "The Game" will provide Miller with a huge stage, especially if Ohio State rolls into Ann Arbor undefeated. 

What I Love About Him

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    Aside from his huge numbers and the seemingly impossible moves he's capable of breaking out on the field, one of the most undervalued aspects of Miller's game is his decision-making ability.

    Miller has thrown just 10 interceptions in two seasons, and if the reports out of fall camp are true, he's become even better as a passer this offseason.

    Pairing improved passing numbers with the running ability he showed last year, when he rushed for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns, what's not to love?

What Others Are Saying

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    Urban Meyer on Braxton Miller's Maturity

    I’ve got to be careful because I just glow on him. I love Braxton Miller. Him and [offensive coordinator] Tom Herman have something really special going right now. You can see it on the field. You can see his maturity.

    Via David Briggs of The Toledo Blade.

     

    Heisman Talk

    If Miller can be the dual-threat monster he was last season, he will be in the Heisman conversation; but if he can put up those numbers while Ohio State rides through an undefeated season, he will likely be a favorite.  

    Via Alex Dale of RantSports.com.

     

    Kenny Guiton on Braxton Miller

    It's a powerful feeling when he walks onto the field. We want to play up to his level. He's made it clear that if we don't want to put in the work, we have no place on his team. And make no mistake, this is his team.

    Via Sarah Turcotte of ESPN.com.

Stat Predictions for This Season

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    If Miller stays healthy, expect him to shatter the single-season school record for total offense he set last year in just 12 games.

    Because he has more weapons in the backfield, Miller's rushing numbers will decline, but only slightly. The coaching staff wants Miller throwing 30 passes a game, a dramatic spike from the 21 passes he averaged in 2012, so his passing numbers will increase.

    Miller will complete 65 percent of his passes for 2,700 yards and 24 touchdowns against just four interceptions. He will also add 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

Predicted Heisman Finish

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    Miller will pile up 350 yards of total offense and score four touchdowns in a 28-24 victory over Michigan in the season finale. 

    Miller will be just warming up, though, as he'll torch Nebraska in the Big Ten title game. The Buckeyes will put up 56 points against the Cornhuskers, fueled by Miller's 425 total yards and four touchdowns.

    Those back-to-back performances will wow voters, and Miller will edge Johnny Manziel to win the Heisman Trophy.