Jan 3, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller (5) attempts to avoid the tackle by Clemson Tigers linebacker Spencer Shuey (33) during the first half in the 2014 Orange Bowl college football game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
If you’ve ever wondered what an inflatable horseshoe might look like, keep your eyes on Columbus in the next few days, because you might just see THE Horseshoe deflate. That’s because on Monday Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller re-injured his throwing shoulder during practice and may be done for 2014, according to Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch.
Miller, who underwent off-season shoulder surgery, had been in the running for the Heisman Trophy last year before missing nearly three full games due to injuries. Most observers saw him as a Heisman favorite this season, but May’s sources indicate that more surgery is likely after Monday’s setback, and Miller is not expected to make a quick return.
Just this weekend, Ohio State crashed the Top 10 in both preseason national polls, landing at number 5 in the AP version and nabbing USA Today’s number 6 spot. Without Miller in the lineup, the Buckeyes will apparently rely on redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett as their signal caller to start the season, and their rankings will surely reflect that change at the top.
Miller’s injury also directly affects the Cincinnati Bearcats, who will travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State on September 27. Cincinnati received some votes in both preseason polls, though they didn’t land in the Top 25 of either. A victory over the vaunted, though diminished Buckeyes, would go a long way toward further raising the national profile of coach Tommy Tuberville’s squad.
The Bearcats’ defense is generally pretty strong, as nicely detailed by Bill Connelly at SB Nation this spring, though there are some questions up the middle. Not having to deal with the versatile Miller should help them focus on stuffing the run and put pressure on the inexperienced Barrett. Offense will be the real wildcard for Cincinnati, as Gunner Kiel presumably takes over at quarterback after a journey that has led him from high school superstar to commit tease at both Indiana and LSU to pouting backup at Notre Dame.
What was shaping up to be another ho-hum, Buckeye-dominated season in both the Big Ten and in the state of Ohio has suddenly become a potential free-for-all thanks to Miller’s injury. The coming days and weeks will tell us a lot about both Miller’s future and the 2014 fortunes of the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Cincinnati Bearcats.