Braxton Miller Must Shine as Passer to Keep Kenny Guiton on the Bench

Jesse ReedCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2013

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes controls the ball against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 24, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

When the college football season began, you'd think someone was crazy for suggesting Kenny Guiton was a better quarterback than Braxton Miller.

Heading into Week 5, however, the junior signal-caller must have a big game to keep his backup on the bench. 

After missing the past two-plus games due to injury, the star quarterback will likely start this weekend against Wisconsin, as Austin Ward of reported.

Miller opened up the 2013 campaign for Ohio State Buckeyes as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate after totaling 3,310 yards and 28 touchdowns as a sophomore.

He led his team to an undefeated record, and Urban Meyer expected him to take on an expanded role as a playmaker, as noted by David Briggs of the Toledo Blade:

If you look at our offense last year, we were a pro offense. There were not a lot of read components ... which is kind of the essence of what spread football is. That really didn’t exist for us.

We even did some single-wing, which means a direct snap to the quarterback, and one of our best plays was the quarterback counter because he’s our best player. You’ll see a different style of offense this year.

Miller opened the season with a less-than-stellar performance against Buffalo, however. He wasn't as sharp as a passer in that contest as he needed to be, throwing an interception to go along with his two touchdown passes.

Ohio State won the game by 20 points, but there was a sense that the Buckeyes still had some work to do in order to establish themselves as one of the nation's most dominant teams.

Then, in Week 2, Miller was injured in the first quarter, and Guiton took over—and he's been playing more like a Heisman Trophy winner than Miller did before getting injured. 

Guiton played most of the team's second game and then started both of the next two contests. During this time, he opened eyes across the nation as to the explosive nature of Ohio State's aerial attack, as he threw 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

He also showed he has the ability to make plays with his legs, rushing for 186 yards on 25 carries. Though not quite as dynamic an open-field playmaker as Miller, Guiton displayed excellent awareness as a passer.

Wisconsin's defense is formidable too, meaning the pressure is truly on for Miller to play his best game. The Badgers allow just 167 passing yards per game (No. 19 in the nation), 76.3 rushing yards per game (No. 6 in the nation) and only 10.5 points a game (No. 10 in the nation). 

It is going to take nothing but Ohio State's best effort to defeat this pesky Wisconsin squad. Meyer can't afford to let Miller work his way through any potential rust. 

Should Miller struggle on Saturday against the Badgers, there's a good chance Meyer could put Guiton back into the lineup to ensure Ohio State doesn't lose its chance to finish the season undefeated. 


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