The Ohio State Buckeyes would be making a mistake in starting quarterback Braxton Miller this Saturday against Cal.
Without a full week of practice and at less than 100 percent, Miller just isn’t ready to return to the field. Besides, against a sub-par Bears team, what’s the rush?
It’s still far too early in the season to gamble with one of the Buckeyes’ most valuable assets.
According to Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch, head coach Urban Meyer believes Miller will be a game-time decision. The junior suffered a knee injury and had to be carted off during the first quarter of Ohio State’s 42-7 victory over San Diego State last weekend.
With Big 10 play opening up in two weeks, Miller could benefit from some extra rest. The Buckeyes host No. 20 Wisconsin on Sept. 28 before traveling to face No. 17 Northwestern on Oct. 5.
But that’s not the only reason Meyer should sit his starting quarterback Saturday.
Miller Means Far too Much to the Team
Last year, Ohio State would not have gone 12-0 without Miller.
He threw for 2,039 yards through the air with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. Miller also added 1,271 yards on the ground and another 13 scores.
But his biggest attribute, one that doesn’t show up on the stat line, is Miller’s leadership.
The Buckeyes were frequently involved in close games last season. In fact, six of the team’s wins came by seven points or less. That includes two overtime games.
It would be hard to imagine Ohio State accomplishing as much without Miller.
This season, he got off to a solid start, totaling 208 yards through the air with two touchdowns. Miller also added 82 yards rushing on 18 carries.
Dual-threat quarterbacks are all the rage in college football these days. And the Buckeyes have one of the best in Miller.
It would be foolish to risk losing that in an early-season matchup.
Cal Can be Handled Without Miller
When Miller left the game last weekend, Ohio State turned to backup Kenny Guiton.
The senior put in a tremendous relief performance, throwing for 173 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for another 89 yards and a score on 10 carries. An argument could even be made that Guiton has been the Buckeyes’ top quarterback this season.
OK, maybe not. But his play has certainly been encouraging.
As for Cal, the team really doesn’t present Ohio State with too many hurdles.
Sure, the Bears have the No. 1-ranked pass attack in the nation, averaging 472.5 yards per game. However, they also rank No. 98 in rushing (110 YPG).
A one-dimensional offense isn’t going to accomplish much against the Buckeyes.
Then there’s Cal’s defense, which has allowed 74 points over the first two weeks. That includes conceding 553 yards of total offense to FCS-foe Portland State—a game in which the Bears snuck by 37-30.
If Ohio State can’t put these guys away, the team doesn’t deserve to be in contention for a national championship.
Summing It All Up
The Buckeyes undefeated season was no fluke. Time and time again, the team was pushed to the brink and responded like a champion.
This year, Ohio State has the chance to reward that same performance with a national championship.
But no matter how good Guiton has been in the past, the Buckeyes will only go as far as Miller. He is the piece that keeps them going.
So while beating Cal this Saturday is the goal, ensuring Miller is 100-percent healthy is the top priority.
Sometimes, you’ve just got to look at the big picture.