Ohio State vs. Cal: Buckeyes Will Win with or Without Braxton Miller

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2013

Sep 7, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller (5) is taken to the locker room after being injured on a play against the San Diego State Aztecs at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Even though Braxton Miller's status for this weekend remains up in the air, Ohio State's ability to defeat California should not be questioned.

The star quarterback exited last Saturday's game against San Diego State after suffering a brutal hit early in the first quarter. The junior sprained his MCL and sat out the remainder of the contest, which Ohio State won by a score of 42-7.

His ability to play against Cal is still uncertain, but there's still a chance Miller takes the field. According to The Columbus Dispatch's Tim May, head coach Urban Meyer is "optimistic" that Miller will suit up against the Golden Bears this weekend. 

"It’s going to go to game time,” Meyer said. "He’s an experienced player."

A year removed from gaining 1,271 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, Miller will be welcomed back with open arms to face Cal, but Ohio State can still secure a win with Kenny Guiton under center.

Tossed into action, Guiton completed 20 of 29 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns. He also displayed his own rushing prowess, gaining 83 yards and a touchdown with his feet.

The senior can hold down the fort longer for Ohio State if needed.

California has already surrendered 74 points through its first two matches, recently relenting 30 points to Portland State. After not missing a beat with Guiton running the show, Ohio State should have no trouble amassing points regardless of who is running the show.

It would actually behoove the Buckeyes to rest their valued asset for a week, as everyone in Ohio will hold their breath every time he leaves the pocket. If he stays still and employs his arm, Miller is not doing what elevated his star status in the first place. He only completed 58.3 percent of his passes last season.

As long as Jordan Hall, Devin Smith and Corey Brown are still on the field, Ohio State boasts too much firepower for Cal to handle. Hall alone should control the offensive tempo, averaging 6.9 yards per carry during his senior year.

Regardless of his availability, Miller can't alleviate the Buckeyes' largest concern. The Golden Bears feature a potent offense, ranking seventh in net yards totaled. Freshman Jared Goff has notched two straight games with 450 yards or more.

Those gaudy numbers should drop against a defense looking to spur a title run, but the Golden Bears will need another monster outing to notch the upset. Don't bet on it though. 

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