Some huge news out of Columbus on Tuesday is Ohio State senior quarterback Braxton Miller reportedly will miss the entire season after injuring his surgically repaired shoulder Monday. What does this mean for Buckeyes futures odds?
Season Not In Ruins
Braxton Miller had surgery on his throwing shoulder in February after he injured it in the Orange Bowl loss to Clemson. He just recently had declared himself 100 percent healthy but was still wearing the non-contact jersey. He reinjured the shoulder during a 7-on-7 non-contact portion of Monday's practice and an MRI on Tuesday morning apparently revealed the serious injury. He was the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Miller completed 58.3 percent of his passes in 2012 for 2,039 yards and 15 touchdowns while rushing 227 times for 1,271 yards and 13 scores. A year ago, Miller completed 63.5 percent of his throws for 24 touchdowns while rushing 171 times for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns. Miller was the third-favorite on this season's college football odds to win the Heisman Trophy behind Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota.
So now what? Miller essentially missed three games last season after getting hurt early in Week 2 against San Diego State. The Buckeyes didn't miss him, putting up 42 on SDSU, 52 on California and 76 on Florida A&M. However, that team had an experienced No. 2 quarterback in senior Kenny Guiton. Now Miller's backup is redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett, who recently moved past redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones for the No. 2 job. Jones started the spring taking the reps with the first team basically because of seniority (Miller was still out). Obviously Barrett has never played in a college game, but Coach Urban Meyer thought enough of him to make the four-star Texan the first QB he recruited when taking the OSU job. Barrett has moved the team better in practices than Jones has.
Last year the Buckeyes ranked No. 5 nationally with 308.6 rushing yards per game. That team had a veteran offensive line and a bulldozing running back in Carlos Hyde, but Hyde is now a San Francisco 49er and four senior linemen moved on. Thus the Buckeyes were planning to use a quick passing attack more this year but probably have to scrap that with Miller's injury and go back to running the ball. It's just that Barrett won't be a threat with his feet, and obviously his grasp on the playbook will limit things the Buckeyes can call. It should be noted that Miller himself struggled quite a bit when thrown to the wolves in 2011 as a true freshman because Terrelle Pryor left suddenly for the NFL due to NCAA violations. This team is going to have to win with defense and ball control. The defense does bring back seven starters and will have one of the best front fours in college football led by ends Joey Bosa and Noah Spence.
Don't expect OSU to fall totally off the map here. It's still one of the most talented teams in the nation. The schedule is also easy. Ohio State will still likely be 8-0 -- winning at Navy, vs. Virginia Tech, vs. Kent State, vs. Cincinnati, at Maryland, vs. Rutgers, at Penn State, vs. Illinois -- when it visits Michigan State in the Big Ten Game of the Year on Nov. 8. Whereas that line opened as a pick'em, now you have to favor Sparty by at least a field goal. After that, OSU closes at Minnesota and home to Indiana and Michigan, three more very winnable games. No Wisconsin, Nebraska or Iowa from the West -- three teams I'd give a decent shot to beat OSU with Miller out.
5Dimes has already updated its odds. The Buckeyes have dropped from a fourth favorite to win the national title to +4200, which is the 12th-shortest odds. They are now third favorites to win the Big Ten at +300 and +160 second favorites to Michigan State (+135) to win the Big Ten East. OSU is a +600 long shot to make the College Football Playoff and has a wins total of 10.5, with the under a -305 favorite.
College Football Picks: Urban Meyer has "made" good quarterbacks at every stop and there's no reason to doubt he can't do that with Barrett. The Buckeyes go 11-1 (I see no chance of worse than 10-2), but that one loss to MSU gives Sparty the East Division. One of my College Football Picks is for Ohio State misses out on the national semifinals but lands in a major bowl.