Braxton Miller

Associated Press

Top-ranked Ohio State slogs its way to 14-0 halftime lead on Hawaii

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Hawaii’s the team that traveled over 9,000 miles, but it’s top-ranked Ohio State looking jetlagged through two quarters of play.

Coming off just four days between games, and playing for the most part with all of the the urgency of a lethargic pothead, the defending national champions have sleepwalked its way to a 14-0 halftime lead on visiting Hawaii.  OK, maybe it’s not fair to lump the defense in with some of the more lethargic ones.

In the first half, the Rainbow Warriors managed just 89 yards of total offense — 35 passing, 54 rushing.  29 of those yards came on UH’s first play from scrimmage, meaning the Buckeyes’ defense allowed just 60 total yards the final 29½ minutes of the half.

Offensively, the Buckeyes did manage to move the ball but simply couldn’t finish drives on all but two occasions.  They put together 232 yards of total offense on the stat sheet, but had just one play of 20-plus yards — Cardale Jones‘ run of 24 yards; that too came on OSU’s first play from scrimmage.  The longest pass play was a 19-yard connection between Jones and Michael Thomas.

Jones got his second straight start and first at home, and was, well, pedestrian in the passing game. While he completed 6-of-9 passes, he accounted for a mere 82 yards through the air.  Perhaps in a move to light a fire under the offense — or perhaps because it was the plan all along — J.T. Barrett was inserted into the lineup late in the second quarter.  His first possession was capped by a three-yard Ezekiel Elliott touchdown, the running back’s second of the day; Barrett’s second possession ended with a third-down incompletion near midfield with just over a minute to play in the second.

Thanks to a healthy use of timeouts, and a Jalin Marshall 32-yard punt return, OSU got the ball one last time with :21 left and set up at the UH 44-yard line.  Barrett came out for a third possession, with the drive ending in a failed Hail Mary attempt after he very nearly threw a Pick-Six.

Barrett ended up 5-of-12 on his three drives for 41 yards.  Barring something unforeseen, Jones will be under center (probably?) for the first possession of the second half.

Braxton Miller was very Braxton-like as one of the few offensive bright spots, leading all rushers with 48 yards on six carries.  The quarterback-turned H-back added an eight-yard reception for good measure.

One final note to file away for future use: if the Buckeyes don’t get their kicking game squared away, it will cost them a game at some point this season.  Mark it down.

Cardale Jones tops Bovada’s initial in-season Heisman odds

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Apparently one sports book didn’t get the memo that Braxton Miller should be the reigning national champ’s stiff-armed favorite.

Following the action in Week 1, Bovada.lv released its updated odds on winning the 2015 Heisman and it was Miller’s Ohio State teammate, starting quarterback Cardale Jones, who tops the list at 7/1.  A week ago, prior to his start against Virginia Tech, the redshirt junior held 16/1 odds.

Bovada certainly didn’t forget Miller’s scintillating performance, though, as the H-back moved from 33/1 earlier this month to 16/1.  Two other Buckeyes are in the top baker’s dozen: running back Ezekiel Elliott (from 5/1 to 9/1) and backup quarterback J.T. Barrett (8-1 to 25-1).

In non-Buckeye odds, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is at 9/1 (6/1 a week ago, followed by Georgia running back Nick Chubb at 10/1 (12/1) and USC quarterback Cody Kessler at 10/1 (12/1) as well.  One of the biggest movers was a true freshman, with UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, at 40/1 prior to his stunning debut, moving all the way up to 14/1.

No Group of Five players made the initial in-season cut, nor did any positions other than quarterbacks and running backs.  A host of players, including suspended Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, were taken off the board.

Below is the complete set of Heisman odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:

Bovada Heisman Odds

Braxton Miller is still Ohio State’s best Heisman Trophy candidate

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You can probably pick an Ohio State player’s name out of a hat and feel good about his chances of being a Heisman Trophy finalist. Running back Ezekiel Elliott was among the top favorites entering the season, with quarterbacks Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett also in the conversation. Some might even feel inclined to throw defensive end Joey Bosa in the debate, because we always feel a need to put a defensive player in the conversation despite having no real shot of seeing it develop. But lost in the Heisman shuffle this offseason was one name that perhaps never should have dropped off as far as it did. On Monday night, Braxton Miller reintroduced himself to the college football nation, reminding everyone watching Ohio State’s 42-24 victory at Virginia Tech just how special a talent he is.

To say we forgot about Miller would be unfair. Miller’s status was a key offseason topic for Ohio State, with various transfer rumors connecting the former quarterback to Oregon, LSU, Alabama and who knows where else. He chose to stay at Ohio State. He chose to move to a new position, wide receiver. If there was any question how that transition would go, Miller answered it with a resounding “It’ll all be OK” Monday night.

Miller’s first catch came on Ohio State’s third offensive series of the night, and it was worth the wait. On 1st and five from the Virginia Tech 48-yard line, Jones sent a rocket toward a diving Miller, and the new Buckeyes receiver showed off great hands by snagging the football for a 24-yard gain over the middle. The second half started with a bang as Jones and Miller once again hooked up for a big play. This time it was a 54-yard touchdown pass that gave Ohio State a spark and the lead after trailing the Hokies at halftime. Later in the quarter Miller served up a spin move so devastatingly video game-like you would have thought Twitter exploded with the response. It was almost as if the world forgot just how special Miller can be on the field, when healthy.

The truth is we always knew Miller had great speed and skill. He showed that off when he was the full-time starting quarterback at Ohio State. Before having to miss the 2014 season due to a shoulder injury, Miller was twice named the winner of The Silver Football and twice named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Two times Miller was named All-Big Ten First Team and he was a top 10 Heisman candidate in both 2012 and 2013. The world knew of Miller. What we didn’t know was juts how well he could take on a key role at a brand new position. Now we know. Let us not forget.

“I would like to say this, I love Braxton Miller,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said after the game. “When you have selflessness, you make a lot of decisions as you have to and he did it for the best interest of his team and Ohio State and when I think about that it makes you feel good. I love that kid, man. And when he does the spin move and the ridiculous athletic ability. He broke down in there, got real emotional. So the negative about football is that you don’t see their faces, you see a helmet and sometimes a visor and you don’t get to see what the kid’s all about.”

In a world in which overreaction following one game in September is unwise, I cannot help but fall into the trap of thinking Miller may just be the best Heisman Trophy candidate Ohio State has to offer this season. History, of course, is not on Miller’s side as a wide receiver has won the Heisman Trophy just once since 1991. That year the Heisman Trophy was won by Desmond Howard of Michigan. The former Heisman Trophy winner chimed in on Miller Monday night…

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I would not go so far as to call Miller’s earlier years at quarterback a waste.I would also suggest Miller may just be a natural talent that was born to play football by any means necessary.

We will see if Miller can continue to show off this level of performance in the weeks to come, but given Ohio State’s schedule coming up it would be fair to say we will see plenty more highlights involving Miller.

Braxton Miller electrifies as No. 1 Ohio State gets revenge on Hokies

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It was not easy. Well, it was not easy for one-quarter. No. 1 Ohio State (1-0) seemed to lose grip of its game control in the second quarter in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech (0-1), but the Buckeyes made adjustments at halftime, showed off some sizzle on offense and pulled away for a big road win Monday night. Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett each threw a touchdown pass, but former quarterback Braxton Miller was the true star of the night in his new position with a pair of touchdowns. When the damage was done, Ohio State seized a 42-24 victory.

Ohio State stormed out of the gate looking to avenge last seaosn’s only loss of the championship season. The Buckeyes started Jones at quarterback after months of speculation, and it seemed to be the right choice. Jones made some incredible plays with his strong arm and Ezekiel Elliot rushed for an 80-yard touchdown on the first two drives of the game for the Buckeyes. Then Ohio State hit a snag on offense as the Hokies string together a 17-0 run to take a 17-14 lead to halftime. It was all Ohio State after that though.

Jones hooked up with Miller for a 54-yard touchdown on the third play of the second half, giving Ohio State a 24-17 lead. Later in the third quarter Miller once again showed off some video game talent by unleashing a devastating spin move that will likely be replayed countless times this week. The spin move was part of a 53-yard touchdown run to increase the Buckeye lead to double digits, 28-17. Playing in his first game at his new position, Miller was Ohio State’s leading receiver with 78 yards and a touchdown. He also ended the night as Ohio State’s third-leading rusher with 62 yards and a touchdown. Elliott rushed for a game-high 122 yards and a touchdown. Jones nearly hit the century mark with 99 rushing yards and a touchdown. Ohio State’s offense combined for 572 yards to Virginia Tech’s 320 yards. There was even room for improvement for the Ohio State offense, with a pair of turnovers (and a third when Elliot fumbled a punt return on special teams duty). Ohio State converted three of nine third-down attempts and committed six penalties.

Virgina Tech’s chances to win seemed to evaporate in the Lane Stadium air when quarterback Michael Brewer left the game early in the second half. Brewer was knocked out of the game after being hit by Ohio State’s Adolphus Washington on the first offensive possession of the half for the Hokies. Brewer suffered a broken left collarbone and will reportedly undergo surgery on Tuesday. He is expected to miss the next four to five weeks, which serves a serious blow to Virginia Tech’s offense. If Brewer misses the next five games, the earliest he would return would be October 17 on the road at Miami, always a key game in the up-for-grabs ACC Coastal Division. Brenden Motley came off the bench to replace the injured Brewer, and he will likely keep that job until further notice. Motley completed four of nine pass attempts for 36 yards and a late touchdown. He was picked off once on a deep pass down the middle of the field. At that point Virginia Tech was looking for a big play to swing the momentum back in their favor, but it clearly did not work out that way.

Moving forward it will be interesting to see what Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer does with the offense. He certainly has options, and none of them seem to be all that bad. Jones did take the majority of the snaps on offense before Barrett entered the game in what was essentially mop-up duty. Even Braxton Miller took a snap before Barrett got a chance. Against Virginia Tech it may have not been wise to mix up players at the position with any regularity, but next week may be different. Ohio State hosts Hawaii next week and that should present more freedom to experiment on offense a bit more if that is what Meyer desires.

The scary thing about Ohio State’s victory Monday night is this Buckeyes team is only going to get better. Ohio State played without a handful of suspended players, including defensive end Joey Bosa. Throw those suspended players back on the depth chart, and all of a sudden this Ohio State is even deeper and more of a threat. There is a reason Ohio State entered the 2015 season as the unanimous top team in the land. Monday night they backed it up. There may not be any team out there that can beat them.

Hokies QB Brewer leaves with injury after Jones-to-Miller gives OSU a lead

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Think Urban Meyer had this one drawn up over the summer? After seeing a 14-point lead turn into a three-point deficit at the half, Ohio State reclaimed the lead right out of the gate in the second half with Cardale Jones finding Braxton Miller on a deep pass for a 54-yard touchdown. The combo gave Ohio State a 21-17 lead on the third play of the second half.

It really was a thing of beauty.

As if that was not enough action for the opening minutes of the second half, Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer was knocked out of the game on the first possession of the second half for the Hokies. Ohio State defensive lineman Adolphus Washington, who also got a good hit on Brewer in the first half, was the one dishing out the punishment. Virginia Tech has announced Brewer will not return. With Brewer out, Virginia Tech will go the rest of the way with Brenden Motley, who threw an incomplete pass and was sacked on his first possession.

The exact nature of the injury is unconfirmed at this point, but it was to his left shoulder, which is not his throwing shoulder.