The Ohio State Buckeyes suffered a scare really quick in Saturday's game against San Diego State Aztecs when quarterback Braxton Miller came out of the game with a leg injury, but backup quarterback Kenny Guiton masterfully led them to a 42-7 win. Until Ohio State is certain Miller is 100 percent healthy, Guiton should be the man in charge.
Just seven plays into the Buckeyes' opening drive, Miller was sandwiched between two Aztecs defenders while scrambling for extra yardage. His helmet came flying off, but it was his knee that gave him trouble after the play as he was taken off the field.
Miller wouldn't return to the game, and CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli noted that he suffered an MCL sprain.
With the life completely sucked out of Ohio Stadium and the season of the biggest man on campus in jeopardy, the backup Guiton had an insurmountable task of getting the Buckeyes fans' minds off Miller and back on Saturday's game.
As a result, Guiton set a slew of career best stats in what was the most playing time of his career. He finished with a 19-of-28 passing performance for 152 yards, adding 83 rushing yards on nine carries and three total touchdowns on the day.
Guiton came in through an adverse situation and didn't miss a beat. He sustained Ohio State's dual-threat strength at the position by getting to the outside in scripted runs, but also scrambling when the throws weren't there.
Even in tight coverage on his two touchdown throws, Guiton showcased elite accuracy. The 6'3" senior hit Philly Brown in stride on both scores, the second of which dropped safely into Brown's breadbasket between two ball-hawking defenders.
Per Fornelli's report, head coach Urban Meyer said his Heisman Trophy contending quarterback could've returned to the game if they needed him. But he goes on to state that they didn't receive the diagnosis until the Buckeyes were leading 21-0.
However, it may not have mattered with Meyer seeing the promise from his backup signal-caller. In fact, he probably could've put a No. 5 jersey on Guiton without noticing the difference.
San Diego State head coach Rocky Long summed up the similarities best after the game, according to CBS Sports' recap.
"I think I've heard coach Meyer say he's as good a backup quarterback as there is in the country," said a frustrated Rocky Long, coach of the Aztecs (0-2). "I don't know how they decide which one starts, to be honest with you. They're both of them very good players."
Much of Guiton's reputation comes from a performance for the ages last season. Ohio State was 44 seconds away from watching their undefeated season crumble to Purdue as Miller left the game after a vicious slam to the turf.
Down eight points, Guiton needed to be perfect. He was, with completions of 39 yards and eight yards to set up a touchdown and two-point conversion to send the game to an overtime period that would end in a Buckeyes victory.
Guiton stepped up in one of the biggest moments of the 2012 season, and the Buckeyes coaches and players should have all of the faith in the world that he could do so again this year.
The schedule gets a bit tougher as they prepare for a trip to face California, but the Golden Bears' struggles on opening weekend against Northwestern, combined with Guiton's experience in big moments, should allow Meyer to take his time returning his star QB.
While a healthy Braxton Miller would beat out just about any quarterback in the nation, Ohio State doesn't have a slouch behind him. The Buckeyes should be very comfortable giving him the keys to the offense until Miller is ready to return.