2014 Ohio State Buckeyes Betting – Protecting Braxton Miller is Critical

braxton-miller-pass-protectionLast year, Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller entered the college football season as an outside favorite to win the Hesiman trophy. Unfortunately, these dreams were derailed pretty quickly as he suffered a sprained knee in the second game against San Diego State.

Miller would rebound from the injury to compile 2,094 passing yards, 1,068 rushing yards and 36 total TD’s over 12 games played. However, he again suffered an injury – this time to his shoulder – in a 40-35 loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Miller is looking pretty healthy after having shoulder surgery in February, but that doesn’t change the number one priority for Ohio State this season: protect Miller.

“Our quarterback is ready to go. He’s full speed, in the best shape of his life,” head coach Urban Meyer said at the Big Ten media day. “Protecting our quarterback is paramount. It’s concern No. 1. It’s A through F, A through Z, A through X, whatever it is.”

Tight end Jeff Heuerman backed up Meyer’s assertion of how important protecting the QB is by stating the importance of Miller. “How important is it to keep LeBron healthy for the Cavaliers? It’s about the same,” Heuerman said.

braxton-miller-pass-protection-1The Buckeyes didn’t really see this LeBron effect last season because they played less-talented teams when Miller hurt his knee. Backup Kenny Guiton came in during the first quarter of the San Diego State game, then started against California and Florida A&M. Luckily for OSU, Guiton played excellent and engineered three blowouts while running back Carlos Hyde provided another offensive dimension.

Both Guiton and Hyde graduated, with the latter being a second-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers. So keeping Miller healthy remains even more imperative, especially with no established backup to come in if he gets hurt again.

So how can Ohio State keep Miller healthy, beyond making sure his offensive line provides good protection. According to Meyer, the solution could lie in doing a few things differently with the game plan.

“His issues are that he sometimes goes above and beyond what his body is going to allow him to do,” Meyer said. “Do we try to slow Braxton down? Absolutely not. We try to protect him, surround him and maybe come up with a good scheme to get the ball out of his hands a little quicker (on passes). The durability issue isn’t because his body wasn’t meant to play college football. It’s because of how hard he plays.”

Miller himself believes that the key will be not making any overly risky plays that could jeopardize his year. “You just have to be smart and not do anything extra to hurt yourself and be out a couple games,” the star QB said.

The 21-year-old comes into the season as a Heisman favorite. So if you’re planning on doing any 2014 Ohio State football betting, keep in mind that OSU features one of college football’s best players. Now, if he can stay healthy, they may feature the nation’s best team as well.

College Football Power Rankings for Week 9 (Oct. 31st, 2013)

byron-marshall-oregonLast week, Missouri and Texas Tech entered our top-10 power rankings for the first time this season. But that was short-lived because both teams suffered losses to ranked teams. And while this won’t kill their chances of winning conference titles, it will knock them out of our top 10.

Everybody else was a winner, though, which sets up a very interesting matchup between Miami and Florida State. The Seminoles blew out Clemson two weeks ago and will be looking to slay their second giant this week at home.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0); beat Tennessee 45-10, retains same ranking – Alabama quickly jumped out to a 21-0 lead and never looked back. It wasn’t until the third quarter that the Vols finally put points on the board. T.J. Yeldon had another big game after running for 72 yards and three touchdowns.

2. Oregon Ducks (8-0); beat UCLA 42-14, retains same ranking – Not surprisingly, Oregon’s home contest against the 12th-ranked Bruins was pretty close for a while. However, Oregon broke a 14-14 tie in the third quarter and quickly turned this into a route. Byron Marshall led the charge as he rushed for 133 yards and three scores.

3. Florida State Seminoles (8-0); beat NC State 49-17, retains same ranking – This one got ugly right away as Florida State jumped out to a 35-0 lead in the first quarter. FSU probably spent the next three quarters discussing their game plan for Miami.

4. Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0); beat Penn State 63-14, retains same rankingcarlos-hyde-running-backKnowing that they have some ground to make up in the BCS Standings, the Buckeyes gave Penn State their worst loss in 114 years. Braxton Miller threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns, while Carlos Hyde rushed for 147 yards and two TD’s.

5. Miami Hurricanes (7-0); beat Wake Forest 24-21, retains same ranking – The Hurricanes got a surprisingly tough game from Wake Forest. Lucky for them, Duke Johnson provided just enough offense after running for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Miami will definitely have to move the ball better against the Seminoles this week.

6. Stanford Cardinals (7-1); beat Oregon State 20-12, moves up one spot – The Cardinals ground out a tough road game in Corvallis, Oregon on the strength of Tyler Gaffney’s 168 rushing yards and three TD’s. Overall, it was an ugly affair, but Stanford survives and gets a week of rest before playing Oregon.

7. Baylor Bears (7-0); beat Kansas 59-14, moves up one spot – Baylor has been crushing teams, having scored 50-plus points on an opponent for the sixth time this year. Chances are that they won’t keep up with this trend when they play Oklahoma next week. Still, it’s incredible how badly the Bears are obliterating other teams.

8. Clemson Tigers (7-1); beat Maryland 40-27, moves up one spot – The Tigers got sammy-watkinsback on the winning track by grabbing a road win in College Park, Maryland. Sammy Watkins had another huge day as he racked up 163 yards and a TD on 14 catches.

9. Auburn Tigers (7-1); beat Florida International 45-10, unranked last week – Auburn has a shot to take the SEC West if they can continue winning. Their lone loss was on the road against a very good LSU team, and they have victories over Washington State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.

10. Oklahoma Sooners (7-1); beat Texas Tech 38-30, unranked last week – It seems like ages ago when Oklahoma was beaten by 16 points at home by Texas. Of course, a win against a top 10-ranked team will certainly help you forget about losses. The Sooners will continue climbing if they can get a huge road victory at Baylor.

College Football Power Rankings for Week 7 (Oct. 17th, 2013)

utah-vs-stanfordFor the first time all year, one of the top five teams in our college football power rankings lost. The Stanford Cardinals, who entered last week as our number five team, lost a tough road game at Utah. Backed near their own goal line, a fired-up Utes team stopped the Cardinals on fourth down to preserve a 27-21 victory. The loss was the first for QB Kevin Hogan as a starter, and it snapped a 10-game winning streak for Stanford. You can see if the Cardinals stayed in our top 10 and check out how the other elite teams did in our Week 7 power rankings.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0); beat Kentucky 48-7, retains same ranking – Oregon may be gaining ground on the Tide, but we see no reason to knock Alabama from the top spot. This is especially true after a dominating win at Kentucky, where T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake led the route by splitting four touchdown runs.

2. Oregon Ducks (6-0); beat Washington 45-24, retains same ranking – Facing a tough, 16th-ranked Washington team on the road, Oregon was rarely challenged. About the only bad thing that came out of this game was that, for the first time, the Ducks failed to eclipse 45 points. However, this is understandable when you consider that the Huskies were previously allowing just 14.8 PPG.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0); bye week, retains same ranking – The Buckeyes got a week to rest up after their close contest against Northwestern two weeks ago. Now they’ll face conference opponent Iowa this week.

4. Clemson Tigers (6-0); beat Boston College 24-14, retains same ranking – vic-beasleyClemson might have been looking ahead to FSU since this game was a lot closer than the 10-point margin suggests. BC actually led 14-10 going into the fourth quarter, but Tajh Boyd threw a TD to put his team up for good. Vic Beasley sealed the deal by taking a Chase Rettig fumble 13 yards to the house.

5. Florida State Seminoles (5-0); bye week, moves up one spot – Clemson’s win means that this week’s matchup will pit two of the top five teams against each other. The Tigers are slightly favored because they’re playing at home. However, you certainly can’t count Jameis Winston and the Seminoles out in this high-profile game.

6. Texas A&M Aggies (5-1); beat Ole Miss 41-38, moves up one spot – With Johnny Manziel having an injury scare early on, the Rebels were able to grab the lead for a while. However, Manziel turned out to be okay and went on to spark a rally by gaining 177 yards in the fourth quarter. Defensive concerns aside, this team can really put up points.

7. Louisvile Cardinals (6-0); beat Rutgers 24-10, moves up one spot – This wasn’t Louisville’s most dominant victory. But their defense really came through in the clutch, as Calvin Pryor and Terrell Floyd both had big fourth-quarter interceptions to seal the victory. The Cardinals have a nice setup and could definitely run the table.

8. LSU Tigers (6-1); beat Florida 17-6, moves up one spot – The Tigers defense turned in a very strong effort as they stifled Florida’s offensive attack and held them to 240 total yards. LSU might have a much tougher time repeating this performance at Ole Miss, where they’ll face a high-powered offense.

9. UCLA Bruins (5-0); beat Cal 37-10, previously unranked – UCLA became the latest ucla-footballteam to dominate Cal, which served as more of a tuneup for their showdown at Stanford. So far, the Bruins boast road victories over Utah and Nebraska this season. So it’s not out of the question to think that they could win one in Stanford too.

10. Miami Hurricanes (5-0); bye week, previously unranked – The Hurricanes jump into our rankings as Stanford and Georgia both fall out. Miami has some nice wins over Florida, South Florida and Georgia Tech this season. They travel to North Carolina tonight in what should be a pretty close game.

College Football Power Rankings for Week 6 (Oct. 10th, 2013)

alabama-tideEvery team from last week’s top 10 won, which means our rankings will remain largely unchanged in Week 6. But Ohio State and Stanford got definite scares and needed strong late-game play to win. And Georgia did slip in our rankings due to injury circumstances. That said, let’s discuss the Bulldogs as well as the rest of the top 10.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0); beat Georgia State 45-3, retains same ranking – Everybody from the Tide got a chance to play in this mid-season tuneup game. DeAndrew White highlighted the action with a spectacular one-handed grab in what was an otherwise predictable outcome.

2. Oregon Ducks (5-0); beat Colorado 57-16, retains same ranking – Marcus Mariota had an outstanding game after scoring seven total touchdowns. From the monsoon two weeks ago to the total domination against Colorado, the Ducks offense looks absolutely unstoppable.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0); beat Northwestern 40-30, retains same ranking – The Buckeyes were powered by running back Carlos Hyde and his 168 yards and three touchdowns. Hyde’s third score put the Bucks up for good with 5:22 remaining, and kept their national title hopes alive.

4. Clemson Tigers (5-0); beat Syracuse 49-14, retains same ranking – Tajh Boyd didn’t have his prettiest game after throwing his first two interceptions of the season. However, he also tossed five TD passes, which was more than enough to win a road game over Syracuse. There’s now just two weeks until the Tigers face off against Florida State in one of the year’s biggest matchups.

5. Stanford Cardinals (5-0); beat Washington 31-28, retains same ranking – The Cardinals stanford-ty-montgomeryhad their hands full trying to hold off the Huskies and atone for last season’s loss. But they were able to do it, thanks to 290 all-purpose yards and two TD’s from Ty Montgomery. Now they head off to Utah for what could be a semi-tough contest.

6. Florida State Seminoles (5-0); beat Maryland 63-0, moves up three spots – While many experts predicted the Seminoles would win this contest, few people expected a 63-point blowout of the 25th-ranked Terrapins. However, Maryland had no chance of slowing down super frosh Jameis Winston, who threw for 393 passing yards and five touchdowns.

7. Texas A&M Aggies (4-1); bye week, retains same ranking – Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M got last week off. Now they’ll travel to Ole Miss to face a desperate team that just fell out of the top 25.

8. Louisville Cardinals (5-0); beat Temple 30-7, retains same ranking – Nothing special to report here. The Cardinals dominated a winless Temple team while Teddy Bridgewater threw for 348 yards and two touchdowns. Louisville almost pitched a shutout, but the Owls were able to get a moral-booster with a late touchdown.

9. LSU Tigers (4-1); beat Mississippi State 59-26, moves up one spot – The Bulldogs kept this one close for a while, trailing only 31-26 after three quarters. However, LSU blew the game wide open in the final quarter and compiled 563 yards of total offense throughout the game.

10. Georgia Bulldogs (4-1); beat Tennessee 34-31 (OT), drops four spots – Once again, Aaron Murray provided late-game heroics to power the Bulldogs to a victory. That said, it seems like they shouldn’t be dropping in our rankings. Unfortunately, the win proved very costly as Georgia lost both RB Keith Marshall and WR Justin Scott-Wesley to season-ended knee injuries. Now their season could get much tougher moving forward.

College Football Power Rankings for Week 5 (Sept. 26th, 2013)

stanford-football-asuLast Saturday was relatively mild in terms of excitement for the college football world. There were no truly high-profile matchups involving top 10-ranked teams. But that’s not to say that some of college football’s best didn’t face stiff competition. This is especially the case with Stanford, as they took on unbeaten and ranked Pac-10 foe Arizona State. The Cardinals made it look easy though as they dominated the first half and grabbed a 29-0 lead. That said, you can definitely expect to see Stanford moving up this week’s power rankings.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0); beat Colorado State 31-6, retains same ranking – After surviving a 49-42 shootout against Texas A&M, the Tide faced a much softer opponent in Colorado State. There was never any doubt in this contest with Alabama going up 17-0 in the first half. But QB AJ McCarron still wasn’t happy with how the offense executed in this game. They’d better be sharper against #21 Ole Miss this weekend.

2. Oregon Ducks (3-0); bye week, retains same ranking – Oregon got a week to rest up before their first Pac-10 game of the season. They face California in what should be a pretty easy win, especially with the game being at home.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0); beat Florida A&M 76-0, retains same ranking – Backup QB Kenny Guiton continues to take advantage of his opportunity to shine in Braxton Miller’s absence. The senior threw a school-record six touchdown passes in this route of the hapless Rattlers. Now the Bucks face a real opponent in #24 Wisconsin this week.

4. Stanford Cardinals (3-0); beat Arizona State 42-28, moves up two spots – Stanford made Arizona State look like some no-name Division III school in the first half. The second half wasn’t quite so impressive, but then again, the game was already over by this point. All in all, it was a much better outing than their 34-20 win against Army last week.

5. Clemson Tigers (3-0); beat NC State 26-14, drops one spottajh-boyd-clemsonClemson came into this contest averaging 45 points a game, but wasn’t able to do any serious damage until scoring a late first-half TD. From here on out, it was all about protecting their small lead in a game filled with poor execution. Tajh Boyd did put up pretty good numbers, though, after throwing for 244 yards and three touchdowns.

6. LSU Tigers (4-0); beat Auburn 35-21, drops one spot – Much like Clemson, LSU only falls because of Stanford’s dominant half against Arizona State. Jeremy Hill ran right over previously unbeaten Auburn en route to amassing 184 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The 6’2″, 235-pound back looked nearly unstoppable last Saturday.

7. Louisville Cardinals (4-0); beat Florida International 72-0, retains same ranking – This was a stat-padder for Teddy Bridgewater as he threw for four touchdowns on the evening. More impressive though was the fact that Louisville held FIU to just 30 yards of total offense, which is a school record.

8. Texas A&M Aggies (3-1); beat SMU 42-13, retains same ranking – In yet another blowout, A&M led 32-6 at the half. This game turned into more of an opportunity for defensive coordinator Mark Snyder to try out different guys and find a winning combination – something that’s been a priority since giving up 49 points to Alabama.

9. Georgia Bulldogs (2-1); beat North Texas 45-21, retains same ranking – This game was actually close early on, with North Texas forcing a second-quarter tie. But QB Aaron Murray was able to pull the Bulldogs out of a funk thanks to 408 yards passing and four total touchdowns.

10. Florida State (3-0); beat Bethune-Cookman 54-6, retains same ranking – Jameis Winston had his worst game as a college player after completing 10-of-19 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns. But a large part of this was due to several drops by his teammates. In any case, it didn’t matter too much against a dominated Bethune-Cookman team.

College Football Power Rankings for Week 4 (Sept. 20th, 2013)

alabama-texas-amNow three weeks into the 2013 college football season, we’ve already see some big matchups. The most notable involved the defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide taking on Mr. Heisman Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies last weekend. Despite strong performances by Manziel, WR Mike Evans and RB Ben Malena, the Tide proved too much to handle. That said, it’s little surprise who our top team is in this week’s power rankings.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0); beat Texas A&M 49-42 – Alabama may have given up 628 yards of total offense to the Aggies, but then again, they were facing an elite team. The Tide did what they needed to do to win, and put lots of points on the board themselves.

2. Oregon Ducks (3-0); beat Tennessee 59-14 – Oregon hung the first loss on a previously unbeaten Tennessee team, and looked incredible while doing so. Marcus Mariota showed why he’s one of the top prospects heading into the 2014 NFL Draft after putting up 456 passing yards and 4 TD’s against the hapless Vols.

kenny-guiton-osu3. Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0); beat Cal 52-34 – Most teams would struggle mightily in the absence of their Heisman Trophy candidate. But the Buckeyes just inserted backup QB Kenny Guiton for Braxton Miller (sprained MCL) and scored 52 points on the Golden Bears. OSU still hasn’t been beaten since 2011.

4. Clemson Tigers (3-0); beat NC State 26-14 (Sept 19th) – You could make a case for the Tigers being as high as number two on this list. After all, they beat Georgia to open the year and polished off a tough NC State team on the road. Assuming the wins keep coming, Clemson will keep climbing.

5. LSU Tigers (3-0); beat Kent State 45-13 – The Tigers quickly put the Golden Flashes away after scoring 21 points in the first quarter. Following two easy home victories, they face their biggest test since TCU, as unbeaten Auburn comes to Baton Rouge.

6. Stanford Cardinals (2-0); beat Army 34-20 – Few people expected Army to go into the half only trailing by 7 last Saturday. But the Cardinals were able to pull away thanks to a pair of second-half Tyler Gaffney touchdowns. Stanford will try to look more impressive this week against fellow unbeaten Arizona State tomorrow.

teddy-bridgewater-draft7. Louisville Cardinals (3-0); beat Kentucky 27-13 – Nobody expects the Louisville-Kentucky rivalry game to be a cakewalk. And this was definitely the case in the first half as the Cardinals led just 10-3 at the half. Interestingly enough, Louisville relied on RB Senorise Perry (100YDS, 2TD) to carry them in the second half, rather than famed QB Teddy Bridgewater.

8. Texas A&M Aggies (2-1); lost to Alabama 49-42 – A&M is hurting after a close loss at home to the Crimson Tide. But with a ton of offensive talent and plenty more quality opponents on the schedule, the Aggies’ title hopes haven’t been dashed just yet.

9. Georgia Bulldogs (1-1); beat South Carolina 41-30 – Nobody’s going to argue with Georgia’s early strength of schedule after facing Clemson and South Carolina to open the year. The Bulldogs piled up 536 yards of offense to top the Gamecocks and avoid starting 0-2.

10. Florida State Seminoles (2-0) – Star freshman QB Jameis Winston is definitely living up to the hype after throwing six touchdowns in his first two games. And as many people have pointed out, this is more than the five incompletions he’s thrown. Assuming Winston remains poised, FSU should be undefeated when they travel to Clemson in Week 8.