In the blink of an eye, the entire college football landscape may have changed on Tuesday afternoon. Despite proclaiming that he felt 100% healthy from an injury that he sustained during the Orange Bowl last year, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller has once again sustained a shoulder injury that will likely keep him out of the entire upcoming season. The injury came during a non-contact portion of the practice on a screen play, which adds even more distain for a player that many thought would be in the running this year for the Heisman trophy.
Immediately after the injury was announced, the Buckeyes dropped from 12/1 to 50/1 odds to win the NCAA Championship this season. Those odds place them with the likes of Stanford and Ole Miss. And while 50/1 doesn’t mean that Ohio State is completely out of the picture, they now find themselves behind other Big Ten teams Michigan State and Wisconsin, both of which are at 35/1.
Last year, Braxton Miller was vital in leading the Buckeyes to a 12-2 record and an Orange Bowl appearance. Despite the fact that Ohio State was just 91st in the nation at 203 passing yards per game, he was able to help the team rack up 308.6 yards and 45.5 points per, which was fifth and third highest, respectively, in all of college football.
While there is no denying that Miller was the leader of this team last year, it certainly helped that they also had Kenny Guiton to step in during games when Miller did not play. However, Guiton is now gone and attention will instead shift to redshirt freshman JT Barrett. The redshirt freshman sat out last year, after sustaining an ACL injury during his senior year in high school and sitting behind both Miller and Guiton. However, he was a highly acclaimed four-star recruit out of Wichita Falls, Texas. He was also the first player that Urban Meyer recruited when he became the head coach of the Buckeyes.
Fans will get their first look at Barrett in Ohio State’s opening game at Navy. Despite the shakeup in Vegas odds, the Buckeyes remain the #5 team in the nation. After Navy, Ohio State will welcome a tough Virginia Tech team to their home stadium, which will then be followed by a matchup against Kent State. It certainly isn’t the most challenging schedule in the nation, so Barrett could get plenty of practice before the big showdown on November 8th against Michigan State. You can check back with sportspicks.com for more insight into Ohio State and the rest of the college football outlook all season long.
Another player that fans may want to keep an eye on is Ezekiel Elliot. During his freshman campaign, Elliot had 2 touchdowns and 262 yards on 30 attempts. However, he was just the third back on the depth chart, as Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall were both above him. But as Hyde and Hall have both departed for the NFL, it will all fall on Elliot to take some of the pressure off Barnett.
As to whether or not Miller will take a medical red shirt and return next season, that is still a question that will likely depend on the success of Barrett this season. It’s worth noting that Miller was expected to be drafted after this season, assuming he had an effective season, but his recent injury is just another in a string of unfortunate circumstances. During Miller’s senior year in high school he sustained an ankle injyry that kept him out of majority of the season, and that same injury also limited his playing time during his freshman year at Ohio State. But if Barnett succeeds in the starting role, Miller may have no other option than to clarify for the draft as a cautious, injury-prone player.