Ohio State vs. Purdue: Has Braxton Miller Played His Way Back into Heisman Race?

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Ohio State vs. Purdue: Has Braxton Miller Played His Way Back into Heisman Race?

When Braxton Miller went down with a sprained knee in the first quarter against San Diego State in Week 2, most assumed his Heisman Trophy hopes were done as well.

However, after missing two games, Miller has made a statement by putting up consistent, if not spectacular, numbers in Big Ten play. Those numbers could put Miller's name back in the mix for the Heisman Trophy.

This week against Purdue was just the latest, and perhaps most efficient, example of what Miller is capable of as a quarterback.

He had just one carry on the day for seven yards, but he had a great day in and out of the pocket, going 19-of-23 passing for 233 yards and four touchdowns. He accomplished that in just one half of Ohio State's 56-0 win. 

We all know Heisman contenders need that "Heisman moment," where they do something people will remember for a long time.

Miller checked that off on Saturday with this ridiculous shovel pass for a touchdown:

Miller has done it against a few bad defenses (including Purdue this week), but he also has done it to Wisconsin and Iowa—two of the better units in the Big Ten.

Against Wisconsin, he completed 68 percent of his passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns.

That would be his lowest yardage output of the conference season to date.

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Against Iowa, Miller completed 81.5 percent of his passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns.

Then, in last's week contest against Penn State, Miller had his career high in passing with 252 yards and three touchdowns. He accounted for over 300 total yards and five total touchdowns.

Through five conference games, he has completed 72.8 percent of his passes for 1,108 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also has 328 yards rushing and two touchdowns in conference play. That's 1,436 yards and 15 touchdowns in total for Miller so far in the Big Ten.

Could those numbers be enough to get Miller back in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy?

In a year like 2013, where there are so many good quarterback performances, how do Miller's conference stats stack up to those of some of the bigger names like Marcus Mariota, Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston? 

Conference Stats Comparison
Name Passing Yards/Game Passing Touchdowns Interceptions Total Yards/Game Total Touchdowns
Braxton Miler 221.6 13 2 287.2 15
Johnny Manziel 366 15 3 434 18
Marcus Mariota 278.4 13 0 328.2 18
Jameis Winston 356.6 20 5 379 22

ESPN.com

 The numbers tell an interesting story, one that shows Miller is behind some of the other front-running quarterbacks.

However, he more than holds his own in some of the other numbers behind the numbers listed above.

When you look at the numbers front-runner Marcus Mariota is putting up as a passer in Pac-12 play, there isn't much difference.

Mariota has 284 more total yards passing (1,392 to 1,108) but has attempted 143 passes to Miller's 125. 

In fact, Miller's 125 attempts in conference play are by far the fewest of any of the quarterbacks we're looking at, as Manziel and Winston have attempted 181 and 175 passes, respectively.

Despite the disparity in the numbers, Miller comes out as the second-most efficient quarterback of this group, with a 178.4 passer efficiency rating—trailing only Jameis Winston's crazy 205.6 rating.

Miller also has something going against him that only Oregon's Mariota can claim—a running back that is proving to be as valuable as the quarterback. 

Carlos Hyde's emergence has cut into the available attempts Miller gets in the run game and thus, limits Miller's attempts in the pass game as well. 

While Miller's raw numbers may not put him the lofty stratosphere of the other quarterbacks in real contention, he has proven that he at least deserves to be in the conversation heading into the final month of the season. 

 

*Andy Coppens is the lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.

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