Braxton Miller comes of age against Wisconsin

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (R) celebrates with Devin Smith after a touchdown run against Wisconsin during the fourth quarter of their NCAA football game in Columbus, Ohio October 29, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

We’ve seen flashes of Braxton Miller’s talent, but last night we saw the freshman quarterback win a game with his ability and his moxie, as he beat the Wisconsin Badgers with his legs and his arm in spectacular fashion.

The kid has incredible cutting ability, so it’s fun to watch him run. He also has breakaway speed. And, last night he showed he can throw the ball. He may not be Andrew Luck, but he has the ability to be an excellent college quarterback.

Finally, the kid has ice in his veins. Here’s his response to a question from Doug Lesmerises:

Braxton Miller is remarkably unexcitable. When I asked him about his emotions as the players and fans stormed the field, he said his main focus was to make sure he didn’t get hurt in the scrum. When I asked if anything in his life makes him nervous, he said maybe giving a speech in class.

Word is he also winked to Coach Fickell before going onto the field for the last drive, signaling he had it covered.

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Huge win for the Buckeyes

Ohio State players celebrate after their victory over Wisconsin in their NCAA football game in Columbus, Ohio October 29, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Few people gave them a chance, but the smart money in Vegas saw the opening line of Ohio State +9.5 and started pushing it down as money flowed to the Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes reasserted their rightful place as one of the powers of the Big Ten by reminding Wisconsin who was boss last night with a thrilling victory over the Badgers.

The Buckeyes dominated the line of scrimmage all night long, and all the hype around Wisconsin melted away as the game went on. The Badgers then came storming back and almost won the game, but Braxton Miller came of age with a stunning 40-yeard TD with 20 seconds left to seal the victory for the Buckeyes.

Some idiots on Twitter tried to criticize Ohio State fans for storming the field after beating a 15th-ranked team, but this has become a real rivalry, and the Bucks had a score to settle after last year’s loss in Wisconsin. It’s also been a rough year for the Buckeyes, so the elation was real after Ohio State fans had to listen to the Badger hype all year long.

Luke Fickell deserves credit for his own growth in the job. He’s slow to figure things out, but he eventually seems to get things right.

Great win!

Do the Buckeyes have a chance against Nebraska?

This one could get ugly. The Ohio State offense is so anemic right now that everyone around the country seems to think this game is over before it gets started.

One key will involve the Buckeye defense. This unit has been pretty strong all season. They will have to keep it up this week and probably force some turnovers. Nebraska has it’s own problems with interceptions, so we might see the defense carry the load this week.

On offense, the Buckeyes just need to be competent, and that hasn’t been the case against good teams. Luke Fickell and Jim Bollman need to understand that they don’t have Troy Smith or Terrelle Pryor running this offense. They either need to go with other quarterbacks, or they need to craft a game plan that makes sense for Braxton Miller. They need to wake up.

Bauserman benched in favor of Miller

Ohio State quarterback Joe Bauserman (2nd R) scores a touchdown against the University of Akron during the first quarter of their NCAA football game in Columbus, Ohio September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Luke Fickell may not have figured it out during the debacle in Miami, but with more time to study film and think about the matter, he has decided to start Braxton Miller at quarterback this Saturday against Colorado in place of Joe Bauserman.

Maybe it’s inexperience, but he should have done more to address the situation during the game against the Canes. It was clear that Bauserman’s abilities couldn’t carry the Buckeyes against a talented defense. Miller got some playing time, but it was clear that Fickell and the coaches wouldn’t let him do much besides running a wildcat-type offense.

It’s time to let Miller play and learn under pressure. If the Buckeyes lose some games along the way – so be it.

At least Fickell did the right thing. Many of us are down on him after last week’s game, so now he has a chance to resurrect his head coaching career. He’s young, just like Miller, and he’s going to make mistakes. Hopefully this is a sign that he can recognize mistakes and correct them quickly.

Is Luke Fickell in over his head?

Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell watches his players prior to their NCAA football game against the University of Akron in Columbus, Ohio September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

I’m rooting for Luke Fickell. While many Buckeye fans are holding their breath hoping for Urban Meyer in 2012, I’m hoping that Fickell shows Buckeye Nation that he deserves the job.

That said, last night’s loss to Miami was an embarrassment, and much of the blame has to be put on the young coach.

Like many fans, I was somewhat fooled by Joe Bauserman’s performance in the opener against Akron. But last week against Toledo we started to see some problems, and it became clear to even the casual observer that the Buckeyes would need to be more aggressive with Braxton Miller in order to beat the good teams.

Based on last night, it seems that Fickell has no clue as to how to manage quarterbacks or tight games in general. Buckeye quarterbacks completed just 4 of 17 passes for 36 yards. That’s just stunning incompetence. Fickell and the coaches did nothing to let the quarterbacks establish a rhythm. For Miller, they tightened up and panicked after he threw an INT and then turned him into a one-dimensional running quarterback. He made some nice plays, but the took away the pass and made it clear they had no confidence in him.

They need to develop Miller, because you can’t beat good teams with Bauserman. I would have been fine with a loss last night had they unleashed Miller and let him learn and make mistakes.

Fickell also seemed clueless at the end of the game, as he didn’t use any timeouts as Miami ran out the clock. Sure, the game was over, but it’s like he gave up.

Fickell needs to wake up and get Miller in there for good. If he doesn’t, this season will be a lost season, and we’ll have another head coach next season.

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