Braxton Miller showed on Saturday night why so many considered him to be the Heisman favorite coming into the season, throwing for 198 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for another 83 yards as No. 4 Ohio State won its 17th-straight game by beating No. 23 Wisconsin, 31-24, in Columbus.
Miller won’t win the Heisman because he missed most of the last three games due to a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, but he can still lead the Buckeyes to a national title. The Ohio State team we saw against the Badgers looks capable of at least getting to the big dance, especially with Miller looking so masterful at times directing the the offense.
But this was no cakewalk. The Badgers played tough and made a run at it behind quarterback Joel Stave (295 yards, 2 TDs), Jared Abbrederis (10 catches, 207 yards, 1 TD), and linebacker Chris Borland (16 tackles), but getting the upset in the Horseshoe was just too tall of a task for this Wisky club, which has now dropped two of its last three games by a total of nine points.
Miller made it clear from the getgo that he was back. He threw TD passes of 25, 26 and 40 in the first half (the latter coming on the last play of the half) to put some spring into OSU’s step heading into the locker room. As a result, he started to look a lot like the one-man-show who finished fifth in the Heisman vote last season.
Wisconsin hung in there, coming back from a 31-14 fourth-quarter deficit thanks to a 75-yard drive that ended in James White’s 17-yard touchdown run, and then a 60-yard drive that resulted in Kyle French’s 42-yard field goal. Suddenly the score was 31-24 and a tough Badger defensive stand forced Ohio State to punt.
But Cameron Johnston uncorked a 55-yard punt that pinned Wisconsin at its 10 with 1:29 to play. The Badgers couldn’t get anything going and Ohio State ran out the clock to move to 5-0 on the season.
How far can the Buckeyes take this streak? It’s still early, but looking ahead at the schedule, it seems quite plausible that Ohio State will run the table yet again, especially with Miller now at full strength and playing with purpose. But will an Urban Meyer-coached Ohio State team that has won 25 in a row be left out of the last BCS title game if the two teams currently ranked ahead of it — Oregon and Alabama — are also undefeated?
Can we start that playoff a year early?