AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

Ezekiel Elliott wins Silver Football as Big Ten MVP

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While Alabama running back Derrick Henry was busy making room on his mantle for a plethora of awards Thursday night, including two player of the year awards (Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year) and the Doak Walker Award (best running back), Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott will be making room for a Big Ten honor. Elliott was named this year’s winner of the Silver Football, presented to the Big Ten’s best player by The Chicago Tribune.

The vote for the award is determined by ballots submitted by each head coach of a Big Ten football program. This year’s vote included 13 ballots, as Kyle Flood did not submit a vote after being fired by Rutgers. Elliott received eight first-place votes from the Big Ten coaches. Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook received three first-place votes and four second-place votes to finish in second place. Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard received a pair of first-place votes and finished in third.

Other players receiving votes for the Silver Football included Penn State defensive lineman Carl Nassib, Iowa defensive back Desmond King, Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa, Northwestern defensive end Dean Lowry, Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock and Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert.

The Chicago Tribune has handed out a Silver Football every season since 1924. Elliott is the 18th player from Ohio State to win the award, which breaks a tie with Michigan for the most all-time Silver Football winners. Iowa is the only other program to have double-digit winners (10). Elliott is the second Ohio State player to win the award in the last four years, joining two-time Silver Football winner Braxton Miller (2012, 2013).

Randy Edsall not leaving Maryland without giving Buckeyes a fight

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If this is the last game Randy Edsall coaches at Maryland, at least he is making it count. Maryland may be down at the half, but the overmatched Terrapins are giving No. 1 Ohio State all it can handle it would seem. Ohio State holds a 21-14 lead on Maryland at the half, with big plays being the key.

Maryland struck first when Perry Hills connected to an open D.J. Moore down the middle of the field for a 52-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Ohio State would battle back, switching up the quarterbacks between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett along the way. The Buckeyes ripped off three touchdowns, with Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott each running for one and Jones throwing for the third, to Braxton Miller. Up 21-7, all seemed to return to normal for the Buckeyes, but Maryland cut the lead to seven late in the first half.

Hills broke free for a 75-yard run from the Maryland 22-yard line all the way down to the Ohio State three, and he finsihed off the quick touchdown on the next play with a short touchdown run. So Maryland continues to linger, which appears to be a theme with Ohio State’s opponents this season.

Jones has completed 15 of 20 pass attempts for 195 yards and a touchdown for Ohio State. Barrett attempted just one pass, which was good for a 20-yard gain. Elliott has just 25 rushing yards on 11 attempts at the half.

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.

Virginia Tech scores 17 straight for halftime lead on Ohio State

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Ohio State looked unstoppable on its first eight plays from scrimmage tonight in Blacksburg. Eight offensive plays into the night, Ohio State was up 14-0 thanks to a nice touchdown pass from starting quarterback Cardale Jones and an 80-yard run by Ezekiel Elliott. Since then the Virginia Tech Hokies have chipped away and taken a surprising lead, 17-10.

Ohio State got on the board on its first offensive possession of thew night, with Urban Meyer sending Jones out to lead the offense. Seven plays later Jones was celebrating his first touchdown pass of the season, this one to Curtis Samuel from just outside the red zone. Ohio State wasted no time getting back on the board on its next possession. Eliott broke free for an 80-yard touchdown up the middle fo the defense, surging Ohio State to a commanding 14-0 lead. Converted wide receiver Braxton Miller even got in the stat sheet with his first catch of the season showing off some good concentration and hands on a 24-yard gain. Ohio State’s offense has hit a bit of a wall though with the next three possessions resulting in a missed field goal, an interception off a tipped pass and a punt.

Virginia Tech was not without its own little wrinkles on offense. Early in the second quarter Michael Brewer completed a wheel route pass to fullback Sam Rogers down the left sideline, and the shifty fullback did the rest of the work. Rogers raced down field and reached the end zone after making an Ohio State defender (Eli Apple) break his ankles. After missing a 50-yard field goal try earlier in the half, Joey Slye cut into the Ohio State lead with a 46-yard field goal. Following the special teams mistake by Elliott of Ohio State, Brewer went deep to Isaiah Ford for 36 yards to the door step of Ohio State’s end zone. Brewer found a wide open Ryan Malleck in the end zone for the go-ahead lead.

Ohio State will get the football to begin the second half.