New Buckeye quarterback helping fans forget about dark era

Terrelle who? A new face is being painted on the Ohio State football program – a player who has seemingly brought hope to a program that was  lying on a hospital bed with an IV pump attached to it.

His name is Braxton Miller, a true freshman quarterback. And he’s offering a glimmer of optimism to the future of the Buckeye program.

Fans already knew the name, but the rest of the nation is just beginning to learn about him.

After upsetting then No. 16 Illinois on the road Oct. 15, the Buckeyes went into a bye week to prepare and gameplan to pull off the impossible: knock off undefeated Wisconsin on its homecoming game on Oct. 29.

Undefeated Wisconsin turned into one-loss Wisconsin, however, when Michigan State won off an improbable hail mary that dashed the Badgers’ hopes of making it to the BCS title game.

The Buckeyes’ matchup against the Badgers may have seemed anticlimate, but the game that ensued wasn’t. However, it was actually Ohio State, led by Miller, which controlled most of the game.

The true freshman came through on the team’s biggest stage yet, throwing for 89 yards, completing 7 of 12 passes and tossing a touchdown. In addition, Miller rushed for 99 yards on 19 carries and scored twice on the ground, where he was the most deadly against the Badgers defense.

But perhaps his most important moment came in the final seconds of the victory.

The Buckeyes had gone up 26-14 with 4:39 left in the game after Miller scampered for a 44-yard TD run. If it were any other team than Wisconsin, it would have been seemingly over. But the Badgers have showed resilience to make late comebacks in games, especially in the game against the Spartans just a week earlier.

The Badgers did just that yet again. Senior quarterback Russell Wilson, the nation’s top passer, led the Badgers to two straight scores to take a 29-26 lead with 1:19 remaining.

Suddenly, déjà vu enters into the minds of Buckeye fans of the teams’ nightmare collapse against Nebraska on Oct. 8.

Miller’s shining moment came with about 30 seconds left on the clock at the Wisconsin 40-yard line.

It was first and 10 and Ohio State only needed about five yards to get into realistic field goal range. As the ball was snapped, Miller dropped back and was chased out of the pocket. As he drifted to his right, he could have scrambled and easily got a good five to seven yards and gone out of bounds to set up the field goal. Instead, he spotted a wide open Devin Smith and threw a 40-yard TD pass to his fellow freshman. The extra point gave the Buckeyes a 33-29 lead.

They went on to win the game and the student section flooded the field with overwhelming ecstasy afterward. The media rushed the field as well, all trying to get a piece of what Miller was thinking after the game. Even after the game, Miller remained humbled by the whole experience.

What’s even more remarkable was his demeanor before that play. He reportedly said to coach Luke Fickell: “I gave him a little, you know, ‘We got it, man. Don’t worry about nothing.’”

The maturity and development of Miller has certainly reached the point where most people have completely forgotten about former Ohio State great Terrelle Pryor. And I don’t blame them at all, considering what has transpired in Columbus in the last 10 months.

The NCAA will have its way with Ohio State when all is said and done, but right now fans are too busy watching the growth of the program’s next great prodigy: Braxton Miller.

JACOB TARR

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