Expectations for Braxton Miller are riding high as the 2014 season draws near. Even though the Buckeye quarterback is 26-9 as a starter in his tenure so far, still feels like he has a lot to prove.
"It's been up and down," Miller said. "We're gonna be remembered as a champion this year, though."
Playing for a program like Ohio State, the expectation is always championship or bust. And despite having racked up an absurd number of awards and honors--he's the two-time reigning Big Ten offensive player of the year--Braxton Miller has yet to bring the Buckeyes to the promised land. The program hasn't won a Big Ten Championship or bowl game with Miller under center.
But does that really matter? After all, Miller's efforts have been nothing short of Herculean in his three seasons in Columbus. He's battled injuries (both nagging and severe), NCAA sanctions (levied for offenses committed before his arrival in Columbus), and the specter of Joe Bauserman (who somehow took starts from Miller in 2011). In the meantime, all he's done is accrue the aforementioned player of the year titles, alongside numerous other Big Ten awards: In 2013 alone, Miller was first in passing TDs, passing efficiency, adjusted passing yards per attempt, total yards per play, and total touchdowns. His seven Big Ten awards are the most in conference history.
"We went 12-0. We beat The Team Up North a couple of times. Some guys, they went first round. That's the goal. To get the guys around me to be the top players in the draft. Things like that make me happy," Miller added
Miller will have to be the steadying force for an offense that is by all accounts unproven. Last year, behind arguably the best O-Line in the country, he still took 21 sacks. That line only returns one starter to protect him in 2014. Miller will also be missing his running mate, do-it-all beast Carlos Hyde, who helped make the OSU rushing attack among the most potent in college football last season. Without such a workhorse back, Miller will be tasked with protecting the ball and staying healthy more than ever before.
"I've met a couple of my goals but I still have a lot that sit on the table I've got to scoop up. I have to make sure we're going to do it this year," Miller said.
How Braxton Miller is remembered in Columbus remains to be seen. Craig Krenzel took the Buckeyes to a national championship, and probably hasn't paid for a drink in the state of Ohio in the last eleven-plus years. Troy Smith almost achieved that same status, taking the Buckeyes to the title game before being manhandled by Florida. He also has a Heisman in his trophy case. Terrelle Pryor won 31 games, more than Krenzel or Smith, good for 2nd in OSU quarterbacking history.
It's not as though Miller is lacking in hardware, and there's still a lot within reach. With 11 wins this season, Miller would have more than any quarterback in team history. He needs just 505 yards to pass the legendary Art Schlichter for 1st place in total offense. But what would a Big Ten title and a run at the national championship mean to the man who has already won everything else?
"We're gonna make that long run this year and make sure everyone's on the same page and everyone is confident in what they're doing."