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Miller Injury Casts Shadow Over Buckeyes

Sidelined for part of last year, Ohio State's Braxton Miller will miss 2014 in its entirety.

Sidelined for part of last year, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller will miss 2014 in its entirety.

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller will miss the 2014 season with an injured shoulder, casting a shadow over the Buckeyes’ upcoming campaign and the mobile quarterback’s own future.

Miller sustained an injury to his right shoulder during practice on Monday. It was a similar injury to his throwing arm that forced the 21-year-old to miss two-plus games a season ago.

Ohio State officials announced that the senior triggerman would be out for the season late on Tuesday.

The Buckeyes will now have to prepare to go make a championship push without a player that has been a catalyst to success in his three seasons with the school, a period in which Miller’s progression has been constant.

As a freshman in 2011, Miller completed 85 of 157 passes (54.1%), to go along with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. He ran for another 715 yards and seven touchdowns.

In 2012, Miller completed 148 of 254 passes (58.3%), tallying 15 touchdowns to six interceptions. He also ran for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns in 12 games.

In 2013, Miller completed 162 of 255 passes (63.5%) for 2,094 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also compiled 1,068 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.

This continued improvement – which resulted in back-to-back Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year awards in 2012 and 2013 – had many tipping the 21-year-old to be a Heisman Trophy candidate this season.

Ohio State has announced that redshirt freshman J. T. Barrett will start in place of Miller, while sophomore Cardale Jones will take on the backup role.

Urban Meyer will be hoping Barrett can go some way to replicating Miller’s success, but he has some big boots to fill. Miller’s threat as a runner made him that much more difficult to play against. Barrett isn’t known as a runner, which means the Buckeye backfield could be seeing more of the ball.

Meanwhile, Miller will have a year to ponder his future.

Some were surprised when the Ohio native didn’t declare for the 2014 NFL Draft, particularly as he had arguably enjoyed a better season than Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, all of whom were picked in the first round.

The choice to stay in college could be a costly one. NFL executives are quick to frown on long-term injuries, especially recurring injuries, and may pass if Miller declares next spring. If he comes back as a redshirt senior, he’ll enjoy another year of maturing, but also faces further risk of damage, or at least wear and tear. It’s a lose-lose situation right now for Miller. At least he has time to mull things over.

Vegas impact

Following the announcement that Miller would miss this season in its entirety, Las Vegas bookmakers understandably readjusted their college football futures.

According to Bovada, Ohio State is currently considered 25/1 to win a national championship in January, a figure that ranks the side joint-ninth.

Fellow Big Ten school Wisconsin, the SEC’s Louisiana State, and Southern California of the Pac-12 have all been assigned the same odds.

The Buckeyes began the offseason with 12/1 odds of winning the title, odds which fell to 10/1 in July.

You can find an updated list of college football futures below.

This downturn in fortunes isn’t limited to the big picture either. Ohio State has also been evicted from its perch at the top of the Big Ten conference, as well as the Big Ten East Division.

Right now, Wisconsin – ranked No. 14 on the preseason AP poll – is a 2/1 favorite to win the conference, ahead of Michigan State at 9/4. Ohio State is considered 11/4.

In the East Division, the Spartans – ranked No. 8 in the preseason AP poll – are an even favorite to make it to the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis on December 6. The Buckeyes sit in second place with odds of 5/4.

B1G trouble in the Midwest

Miller’s injury doesn’t only impact Ohio State; it also impacts the Big Ten as a whole.

Historically one of the conference’s standard bearers, the Buckeyes are a big part of the conference’s reputation.

An undefeated season in 2012, albeit one essentially whitewashed by postseason ineligibility, was enough to grab the attention of the nation, not to mention the SEC-directed eye of pollsters, prognosticators and selection committees.

Were it not for a late season meltdown in 2013, the Buckeyes could have forced their way into the national title conversation. In fact, prior to that meltdown, the school was firmly lodged in the conversation.

While most watched Ohio State expectantly, few gave much credence to the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and the rest of the conference’s schools.

In all honesty, with Ohio State looking out of the title picture, even fewer will pay attention to the conference – including new members Maryland and Rutgers – this season.

With few people paying close attention, earning a berth in the first ever College Football Playoff will be that much trickier. Essentially, one school is going to have to run the board to earn a crack at the title, and that’s looking like an unlikely prospect. Michigan State might have a shot at it, but a Week 2 visit to Oregon is likely to prove too tough.

For now, the Big Ten is left to hope that some kind of footballing miracle bestows itself upon the conference in 2014.

The Buckeyes meanwhile are hoping to surprise everybody.


College football season begins on Wednesday, August 26. Ohio State’s season opener comes on Saturday, August 30, when the school travels to Baltimore to face Navy.

For a comprehensive list of College Football odds, click here.

Up-to-date College Football Futures, courtesy of Bovada, can be found here.

A selection of team prop bets can be found here.

A selection of player prop bets can be found here.

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