Evan Spencer

Braxton Miller playing role of ultimate teammate for Buckeyes

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Speculation about the future of Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has been going every direction possible it seems. Whatever the future has in store, whether it be at Ohio State for a fifth year or LSU or Oregon or Florida State or who knows where else, Miller is focused on just being a good teammate who is there for the Buckeyes as they look to win a national championship.

“Braxton has been dealt such a poor hand and he’s playing it very well,” Ohio State wide receiver Evan Spencer said in a feature story published by Cleveland.com. “To see the guys he came in with, guys he grew to love as players and as friends, that he grew up with in the dorms, he’s going to see them get up and leave and that’s a hard thing to overcome.”

“To see the guys he came in with, guys he grew to love as players and as friends, that he grew up with in the dorms, he’s going to see them get up and leave and that’s a hard thing to overcome,” Spencer added.

Miller was set to be a Heisman Trophy favorite heading into the 2014 season, but a shoulder surgery close to the start of the season took Miller off the field for good this season.  His absence opened the door for young J.T. Barrett, who himself garnered some Heisman hype as the season played out and the Buckeyes remained in the playoff discussion. Barrett, of course, was injured in Ohio State’s final regular season game, which opened one more door for Cardale Jones to lead the offense for Ohio State’s three postseason games between the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin, Sugar Bowl semifinal against Alabama and Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game against Oregon. Miller has been there to support each of the quarterbacks to ensure Ohio State’s success can continue without him. Whatever impact he has had as a teammate is unknown for sure, however there is nobody questioning how dedicated he has been during what must have been a tough season for Miller.

Miller will be there to lend his support again Monday night. After that, who knows where he will end up.

Ohio State out-gaining Alabama but trailing by one at the break

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There have been the second-start mistakes you’d expect from a third-string quarterback, but Cardale Jones has made the plays necessary on the ground and through the air to keep Ohio State within 21-20 of No. 1 Alabama through one half of the Sugar Bowl.

After notching field goals on its first two possessions, Ohio State fell into the danger zone down 21-6 midway through the second quarter, but closed the half with consecutive scores to pull within one. First, Ezekiel Elliott punched in a two-yard plunge with 2:55 to play before the break, and then wide receiver Evan Spencer hit Michael Thomas for a 13-yard scoring strike with 12 seconds left on the clock.

Elliott has gashed the Tide front with 12 carries for 117 yards, and Jones – wobbly early – has completed 13-of-24 passes for 168 yards with an interception and rushed eight times for 39 yards. Overall, Ohio State has rushed for 167 yards (Alabama allows 89 a game, best in the nation before today), out-gained Alabama 348-139, posted a 16-8 first downs edge and converted 7-of-10 third downs, compared to Alabama’s 1-for-6.

Alabama scored two of its three touchdowns on short fields thanks to Ohio State turnovers – an Elliott fumble and Jones’ interception – and put together one 79-yard touchdown drive to accumulate its 21 points, but the Tide’s four other possessions have all gone three-and-out. Blake Sims completed 10-of-14 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown, with six completions, 39 yards and the touchdown going to Amari Cooper. Handling most of the reps for a gimpy T.J. YeldonDerrick Henry has rumbled for 56 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

Ohio State will receive the ball to open the second half.