Ohio State freshman quarterback Braxton Miller has not been prolific during his time as starting quarterback, but few would disagree that he has a flare for the dramatic.
With OSU trailing Purdue 20-14 Saturday, Miller and the Buckeyes got the ball on their own 34-yard line with 6:15 remaining in the game. Miller led the team down the field, and on a fourth-and-three, scrambled around the pocket before throwing off-balance and across the field to junior running back Jordan Hall, who caught the ball in the end zone with less than a minute to go in the game.
The play tied the game at 20, but a missed extra point sent the game into overtime where the Buckeyes lost, 26-23.
Despite the loss, it was the second time in three weeks that Miller led a Buckeye scoring drive in the final minutes of the game to give OSU the chance to walk away with the victory.
With less than a minute remaining in OSU’s matchup against Wisconsin on Oct. 29, Miller completed a 40-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Devin Smith to give the Buckeyes a 33-29 victory.
Miller said at the end of games with the pressure on, his mindset is to win any way possible.
“I just go in every game with the mindset that we got to win,” Miller said. “You got to do what you got to do to get the ‘W.'”
But with Miller, there always seems to be more behind just the play.
During the Purdue game, it was revealed that Miller was ill and completed the game-tying play to Hall after vomiting on the sidelines.
“I’m not sure what it was,” Miller said of the illness. “It was just like a little bug. I just threw up once.”
After the Wisconsin game, both coach Luke Fickell and Miller told the story of Miller winking at his head coach before the final drive, signaling his confidence that he was going to lead the team to victory.
“It’s just confidence,” Miller said after the Wisconsin game. “Go out there with confidence and things might work out for you.”
Miller has only passed for 75 yards-per-game since becoming OSU’s starting quarterback after the Buckeyes’ 24-6 loss to Miami. The only teams ranked below OSU’s 117th-ranked passing offense are University of Nevada – Las Vegas, Navy, and Army, but Miller’s playmaking ability and late-game heroics have inspired confidence into his coaches and teammates.
“Knowing you got a kid back there who can make plays like that is awesome,” sophomore offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said. “He just keeps proving himself in tight spots and that’s great to see out of a freshman.”
Fickell agreed and said Miller is a great weapon to have at the end of tight games.
“It’s him doing what he can do best,” Fickell said. “He can put a lot of pressure on defenses.”
Miller and the Buckeyes resume play Saturday against Penn State in Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.