Ohio State is no longer the favorite in the Big Ten East, for one.
The two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Heisman contender underwent surgery earlier in the offseason after an injury suffered in the Buckeyes' loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Miller re-injured the shoulder in practice Monday while throwing in a non-contact drill. Ohio State is expected to announce the results of the MRI Thursday.
A season without Miller would likely mean the Buckeyes turning to redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett. OSU head coach Urban Meyer said this past weekend that Barrett surpassed Cardale Jones as the principal backup quarterback for the Bucks. Offensive coordinator Tom Herman told the media earlier [Monday] "The offense moves better when [Barrett]'s in the game."
Miller's recovery had not yet been fully completed -- he sat out spring practice and many first team reps in fall had gone to Barrett or Jones.
Even before reaggravating the injury, as recently as yesterday, OSU media and backers alike began to second guess some of the phrasing coming from the football brain trust regarding Miller's recovery and began to speculate as to the possibility of him missing some or all of OSU's first several contests.
Even before Tuesday's report, Ohio State's odds plummeted as betters began to consider a Buckeye squad without their star quarterback. Once the favorites to win the Big Ten, Ohio State has now been passed in the odds by Wisconsin and Michigan State, and saw odds to win the national championship or make the playoff drop drastically. After the announcement, Ohio State's national title odds reportedly dropped from 12/1 to 50/1 -- a pretty steep drop for a team that returns an abundance of top-tier talent pretty much everywhere else on the field.
The new guy
The new guy
The loss of Miller could open up the Big Ten East race significantly. The Buckeyes still have the talent everywhere else to win the conference's stronger division, but moving from a Heisman contender to a freshman could see some road bumps, especially early on in the season. Michigan State is the only other team in the division ranked in the Top 25, but expected mid-tier teams like Michigan, Penn State and Maryland could see an opportunity to make some noise.
Ohio State opens the season August 30 in Baltimore against Navy. That's followed up by their most difficult game of the non-conference slate -- a home game against Virginia Tech. The Buckeyes only play one team ranked in the preseason AP Top 25, travelling to face eighth-ranked Michigan State on November 8 in a prime-time game on ABC. Ohio State opponents Virginia Tech, Michigan, Penn State and Navy all received votes as well, but none cracked the initial Top 25.
In 12 games in 2013, Miller threw for 2,094 yards with 24 touchdowns against seven interceptions. A dangerous dual-threat option, he also ran for 1,068 yards and 12 scores -- his third straight season with at least 12 rushing touchdowns.
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