With an injury relegating Heisman hopeful quarterback Braxton Miller to the sideline, Ohio State didn't miss a beat on Sunday. The Buckeyes went on the road and easily handled the Cal Golden Bears, 52-34.
As Urban Meyer and his No. 4 Buckeyes chase a national championship, this win only reinforces Ohio State's ability to pull that task off.
To win a national championship, it obviously takes tremendous talent, but there are all kinds of other factors that play into it. No matter how much talent a team has, it will still face different forms of adversity during the season.
Among other things, it takes the ability to survive a close call, overcome bad luck and succeed in the face of injuries.
In just their third game of the season, the Buckeyes faced some adversity. They had to go on the road to take on a Pac-12 opponent and do so without one of their leaders: Miller.
In the week leading up to the game, Meyer—as the story in the tweet from CBS tells us—had termed Miller "day-to-day" with a knee injury he suffered against San Diego State in the previous week. However, it became clear that Miller would not be playing in this game when he didn't appear in uniform to warm up with the other quarterbacks.
I don't know when his Buckeyes teammates became aware of his upcoming absence, but whenever they did, it apparently didn't rattle them.
Backup quarterback Kenny Guiton had Buckeyes fans saying "Braxton who?" just minutes into this game. When the senior quarterback hit Chris Fields for a short touchdown with nine minutes to go in the opening quarter, he handed his team a 21-0 lead and had his third touchdown pass.
Braxton Miller has been an integral part of this offense. His running and throwing have been the backbone that has set the table for everything else. Yet, the Buckeyes just slid in Guiton to his role and didn't miss a beat.
This is a testament to the winning mentality, resolve and depth of the Buckeyes.
There is no doubt that Guiton deserves massive credit for Saturday's performance, but so do his teammates. Each man came together to ensure there would be no drop off in Miller's absence.
Not only was there not a drop off, but the Buckeyes may have gotten better. They ran off 608 yards of offense in this game and had an average of 8.6 yards per pass.
The defense was victimized in this game for 503 yards, but given the amazing start levied by Guiton and the offense, the defensive problems did not wind up with this game ever being seriously in doubt.
While Miller's absence in this game raised some concern over his recovery from his knee injury, the game itself reinforces Ohio State's chances at having what it takes to run off a second consecutive undefeated season.
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