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 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.